A month of fasting, forgiveness, ibadah, taraweeh and joyous gatherings – Ramadan is expected to begin on the 23rd of April this year. With the coronavirus outbreak around the globe, the holy month and its preparations will not be the same.
Qatar has reported 1,832 cases and 4 deaths and the number is anticipated to multiply over the weeks. According to al-Arabiya.net, Muslims are voicing their opinions on social media platforms on how they want the pandemic to end before their holy month however with the rapidly growing numbers of patients infected, it seems highly unlikely that the virus will come to a halt.
Here are some things that might be different for Qataris this year and we’ve got a suggestion for every change, to blow away the corona blues.
1. The working hours
Usually in Ramadan, offices have two shifts, one which starts in the morning and ends before iftar, and then the night shift which ends before suhur. However, this year the night shift is unlikely to happen.
There might be a curfew or the government will announce the revised timings for workplaces. There is also a possibility that individuals will continue working remotely from home.
According to Qatar’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, only 20% of the workforce is allowed to go to offices to maintain necessary operations whilst 80% is to work from home and the work hours currently are 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. However, after the lockdown ends, this may change.
Our take: Working remotely from the ease of your home during fasting can be a blessing. No night shifts or work from home during the night are favorable too because you have to get up for suhur anyway, and you can rest throughout the day!
2. The shopping and dining out hours
Even with the lockdown lifted, restaurants (takeaway and delivery only), pharmacies and grocery shops in shopping malls might remain open. Other clothing, shoe, and accessory brands might have to operate through e-commerce websites or if the government announces, they can open for some hours during the day to avoid people from getting out of their houses all the time.
According to Qatar’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, since the 1st of April, everything is to remain shut down except for factories, grocery stores, pharmacies, catering companies, e-commerce companies, banks, bakeries, gas stations and companies operating state-related projects.
Our take: You might not be able to have iftar and suhur at a restaurant but you can always order food once in a while and enjoy it with your family. This is the perfect time to cook everyone’s favorite home-cooked meals and practice healthy eating! According to Outlook India, the COVID crisis has led hundreds into the kitchen and people are experimenting away their quarantine!
3. The Garangao festival
As quoted by Life in Qatar, “On the 14th night of Ramadan, Qatari children take part in the tradition of Garangao, a Middle Eastern feast, by dressing up in traditional clothing and going out into the local neighborhood to sing the Garangao song and collect sweets and nuts from neighbors.” This Ramadan, the festivities will be put to a halt. Katara Cultural Village’s Ramadan long events will most likely be not happening as the government has opposed gatherings.
Our take: You can always have a festive environment in the premises of your house. According to The Qatari Life, mothers have decided to decorate separate ‘prayer rooms’ where the children will offer all prayers during the holy month and will also learn facts and stories from the Prophet (PBUH)‘s life. You can create different Ramadan time menus, sit together after iftar, play board games and have a good family time.
4. The clinic timings
Every Ramadan, the working hours for clinics change massively. The clinics which usually close at 8 pm or 9 pm stay open till midnight or 2 am. These clinics work two hours in the morning and then re-open at 7 pm. However, this Ramadan the timings might not be as flexible. The government is still to announce the details after the lockdown ends.
Our take: If you’re unsure about whether a clinic is open or not, or if a doctor of your specialty is available, you can easily book a doctor online based on location, insurance, ratings, and reviews.
5. The taraweeh prayers
There haven’t been any announcements yet and the situation might change in the upcoming twenty days, however, social distancing will still be practiced. This means that this year taraweeh prayers might be offered at home.
Our take: You will be able to offer taraweeh as a family. You might also be more regular than before, now that you’ll be able to offer salah from the comfort of your home.
6. The Ramadan tents
Ramadan is a month of togetherness. Families unite and spend this blessed time together. Qataris fly in and out of the country to spend time will their loved ones however due to travel restrictions and an entry ban into Qatar, this might not be possible. Qataris also gather in Ramadan tents daily for iftar which is unlikely to happen this year.
Our take: Not being around loves ones may sound like a bummer but knowing that everyone is healthy and safe, is a relief. Open the fast with love around your house members and remember the others in your prayers.
7. The fasting period
With educational institutions closed and work from home instructed, families will be under one roof, fasting together. This also means no external hardships such as that of the weather, traffic, exams in making the fast difficult.
Our take: Now individuals will be able to solely focus on their fast, not miss salah, and spend some good ol’ family time which life’s busyness otherwise does not allow.
8. The charity events
Even though Muslims give charity throughout the year, in Ramadan people come together and give more. Shoppers filled with essential food items needed for running a house to food plates during suhur and iftar are common. However since gatherings are forbidden, charity events might not be happening.
Our take: You may not be able to go out there, but you still can donate as much as you want by going to the Qatar Charity website and making single or periodic donations.
9. The Ramadan time shows
According to Middle East Eye.net, shows are specifically made for the holy month during which the numbers of viewers can skyrocket. However, this year due to the outbreak, many shootings were stopped and new content might not air at all.
Our take: Though local channels might not have a lot to offer, you can get subscriptions for streaming websites such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus and binge-watch great shows.
In the last week of Ramadan, women and men head to , dentists, salons, dermatologists, etc. for beauty treatments to pamper themselves before Eid but this year, things might be different. Beauticians might be closed and people might avoid the treatments altogether. Eid might be spent without a family get together, and the Eid prayer may be offered at home – it’s too early to say and in the thirty days of the holy month of Ramadan, there is hope that things might change.
Our take: The significance of Eid will not be reduced so even if you’re home-bound, cook something special, dress up in your finest, and capture some family memories!
Note: This is still a developing story and will be updated as the Ramadan announcements from the Qatari government pour in!
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