Muscat – This year, Ramadan has come with an opportunity to appreciate loved ones and strengthen social relations – a luxury denied to all in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But social interactions must take place while following preventive measures, say experts.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Khalid Ahmed Ali Tabook, head of the Ministry of Social Development’s Family Counselling and Guidance Department in Dhofar, said, “Ramadan is an important time to strengthen our relationship with God and also a time to connect with our family, friends and neighbours. Social media played a great role in communication between people, especially during lockdowns, but direct interaction and meeting people face-to-face is indispensable.”
Tabook noted that meeting people face-to-face strengthens social ties and spreads love and social solidarity among community members. “Ramadan is an opportunity to strengthen social relations, but preventive measures must be adhered to inorder to prevent the spread of COVID-19 again,” he reiterated.
According to Nasser al Hosni, a government employee, visiting family is very important this Ramadan after two years of interruptions due to the pandemic. “Sending a congratulatory message on the occasion of the holy month via WhatsApp is not enough. Due to the closures and fear of the spread of the virus, COVID-19 affected many people psychologically.”
Cautioning against dropping the guard, Hosni said the decisions of the Ministry of Health and health procedures must be strictly followed “because the virus is still among us during our visit to family and friends or during Taraweeh prayers”.
Mohammed al Nay, imam of a mosque, described Ramadan as one of the most important Islamic rituals; an opportunity to strengthen faith and social relations. “But we must not forget that the pandemic is continuing. We must follow the preventive measures while visiting family, shopping and also during prayer.”
Nay added, “We should also help needy families during Ramadan by creating a sense of purpose and strengthening bonds with them.”
Ali al Sheyadi, a teacher, noted the importance of staying connected – in person or virtually – with those closest to us during Ramadan. “Throughout the pandemic, many of us have seen changes to our health, jobs and education. Some have lost their loved ones and may be experiencing the first Ramadan and Eid without them,” Sheyadi said, urging everyone to adhere to the precautionary measures.