Halfway through a lockdown during Ramadan, some among the faithful are still struggling to find light in this unprecedented situation. While some look upon the present circumstances emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic as a horrible and unwanted experience, motivational speaker Hatim Abdissalaam describes it as a ‘golden opportunity’.
“This golden opportunity of having so much free time at home may not come again, so make sure you utilise this to the best possible manner, in the safety of your homes,” says the member of the Islamic Information Center at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
Mufti Menk, a leading global Islamic scholar, has also urged Muslims to make the best of this opportunity and shift their focus from what is restricted to what is still permissible.
“There is no restriction to the recitation of the Holy Quran. There is no restriction to the remembrance of the Almighty. There is no restriction to learning knowledge; in fact, much more is available. There is no restriction to giving charity; we can give charity online,” he said.
“These are still the beautiful days of Ramadan, where the acts of worship are still more blessed. The virtues connected with Ramadan are still the same. The virtue of ‘Laylatul Qadr’ will still be the same throughout, whether there are restrictions or not,” he added.
Despite all the acts of worship that are still possible for Muslims to practise during the holy month, congregational prayers remain prohibited, as part of precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus, and that was a bitter pill for many to swallow, as that meant missing the Tarawih prayers.
With entry to mosques still barred, many Muslims are now offering the Tarawih prayer in their homes, in small congregations with their families, which Abdissalaam describes as a ‘great bonding experience’. Many others shared similar sentiments.
“The bond between me and my kids, I can’t compare to before Corona,” he points out.
Besides communal worship, other social Ramadan gatherings, such as iftar gatherings and tents, are also non-existent this year, as people have been forced into solitude during a month that is otherwise filled with get-togethers.
According to Mufti Menk, this is, in fact, a big blessing, as a lot of the true essence of Ramadan was lost over the years. This gives us a chance to reconnect with the Almighty.
Also, while both Mufti Menk and Abdissalaam agreed that Muslims should be making the best of their time this Ramadan, Abdissalaam also urged people to make use of the technological advancement that connects people and brings them together.
“Technology has always been there, but we were not always making the best of it because we didn’t need to. For the first time, Islamic centers from around the world are all meeting on one platform, from Latin America and Turkey to Saudi Arabia and Oman. We have amazing diversity. They’re seeing the Omani perspective, and we’re seeing different perspectives. And we acknowledge the different challenges that Muslims from other countries face,” he said.
He also spoke of the convenience that the increased use of technology has brought to many people this Ramadan, mainly women. With the increase of online Islamic webinars and tadabbur sessions, women are able to attend more classes during the holy month, something that they could not do in previous years.
By Liyana al Abdul Salam