Ramadan in lockdown: How to celebrate Ramadan during the coronavirus pandemic

Ramadan starts on Thursday, April 23 this year and lasts until Saturday, May 23. Muslims spend the month of Ramadan fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset and is a time where families come together to celebrate. With the world turned upside down and many friends and families unable to come together in person, how will you celebrate Ramadan? This year, social media will play an important role in connecting people and building a sense of community online. Express.co.uk chats to two UK Muslim Creators to find our how to stay connected throughout Ramadan during the pandemic.

How to celebrate Ramadan in lockdown

Facebook is collaborating with partners and groups around the work in order to shine a light on Muslim communities globally, who are using their voices virtually this year to represent the diverse ways of how Ramadan is experienced.

As part of a worldwide series called #RamadanTogether, Facebook has partnered with UK Muslim Creators Basma Khalifa and Mohamed Abdulle to share how they will be celebrating Ramadan this year.

Together, they have made a short video clip which includes ‘Ramadan Stories’ from Basma, Mohamed and influential Muslims such as lifestyle influencer Dina Tokio, model Mariah Idrissi and BBC Radio presenter Mim Shaikh.

In it, they explore the differences between their cultures and how they and their communities celebrate Ramadan, demonstrating the power, impact and generosity of people during the holiday.

Visit Basma and Mohamed’s Facebook profiles on Friday to get involved.

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Lockdown disrupts what Ramadan is all about – connection, being together, and enjoying family time, said filmmaker, director and stylist, Basma Khalifa.

She explained: “This year technology is our best friend, when usually it’s the opposite.

“Normally I wake up to WhatsApps from friends and family around the world.

“They send me funny memes and GIFs, and my aunts in Sudan or Saudi like to tag me in posts on Facebook too.
“It’s quite sweet and means we all still feel connected no matter the age or location.”

This year Basma will be using these resources more than ever during Ramadan.

She said: “It’s fun to share funny things online, and send constant streams of recipes and videos on WhatsApp and Facebook.

“My brother also lives in Singapore so he Facebook messenger calls me every couple of days just to make sure we are connected.

“It’s not the same, but it’s the next best thing to being together.”

Ramadan is a social tradition, and after fasting for nearly 18 hours a day Muslims break their fasts with friends and family to celebrate.

Somali creative born and raised in East London, Mohamed Abudelle said: “Sadly, due to lockdown a lot of people will be spending Ramadan alone and won’t even be able to visit the mosques as they will all be closed.

“The evening (post iftar) is such a memorable time for us because that’s when we can all get together and hang out/go to restaurants, so not having that this year will be a new challenge and something that will most certainly be missed.

“Celebrating Ramadan in lockdown sadly means I won’t be with my friends and family, but we aren’t letting that get in the way of our beloved iftars!

“We’ve already got Instagram Live/WhatsApp group call iftars planned with friends.

“Honestly, I think that this adds a new element to experiencing Ramadan and it will be really fun.

“We’ve also been messaging and tagging each other a lot on Facebook, which has been a huge help in staying connected.”

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What is it like to celebrate Ramadan in the UK?

Different cultures and ethnicities put their own twist on Ramadan celebrations, the creators explained.

Mohamad said: “Celebrating Ramadan in the UK is amazing.

“Even though I’ve celebrated it in different cities, London is always the best because it’s home and where my family and friends are.

“London is so full of culture and has so many ethnicities that enjoy Ramadan in their own way, but what’s so heartwarming to me is that a lot of my non-Muslim friends will take part in Ramadan and join us for iftar.

“I’ve really appreciated being part of #RamadanTogetherApart because I think it’s a great way for more people (religious or otherwise) to understand what makes it such a special occasion.

“I think everyone can relate to family, friends and food!”

How is Ramadan normally celebrated?

Basma said: “I usually celebrate Ramadan by going to my family at the weekend around the UK.”

Basma, who is a Sudanese, Irish Afro-Arab woman living in London, added: “we usually all get together at someone’s house in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds or Manchester.

“There’s always over 20 of us and its so much fun to break the fast together.”

Mohamed, the co-founder or ‘Take More Pictures’, said he celebrates in the same way.

He added: “I usually celebrate Ramadan with family and friends.

“We invite our friends and family over for Iftar every couple of days and do a potluck where we share and enjoy dishes from different communities.”

What is Ramadan?

According to Islam, the Quran was sent down to the lowest heaven at this time.

It was prepared for gradual revelation by Jibreel to Muhammad.

Muhammad told his followers that the gates of Heaven would be open for the entire month, and the gates of Jahannam (Hell) would be closed.

The first day of the next month- Shawwal- is spent in celebration.

It is observed as the “Festival of Breaking Fast” or Eid al-Fitr.

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

Fasting during the observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

This means it is a basic act that is considered by believers to be mandatory and part of the foundation of Muslim life.

During the period, Muslims are not permitted to eat, smoke, have sex, or drink water during daylight hours.

The tradition has come from a verse in the Quran.

Chapter 2, Verse 185 says: “O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed to those before you in order that you may attain taqwa.”

Taqwa technically refers to a “shield” and means you are of pure heart and mind and guarded from evil.

To complete Ramadan you must show discipline and the act of fasting will purify you and bring you closer to God.

Fasting is broken each night at sunset for an evening meal, also known as Iftar.

The Iftar meal happens at the time of call to prayer for the evening prayer.

Why is Ramadan important?

Ramadan means something different to everyone, it seems.

Basma said: “It’s a time to stop still and appreciate.

“The world moves at such a fast pace and Ramadan gives you time to slow down, to reflect and to feel abundance of gratitude.”

Mohamed added: “Of course Ramadan is important religiously, but the thing that makes it so special to me is that we’re all doing it together around the world.

“Not a lot of things let you do that.

“It really does feel like we can come and bond as a global community during this time.”

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