Ramadan 2020: The COVID-19 health crisis overshadows the yearly ritual

The Holy Month of Ramadan is being observed across the globe, however overshadowed by the COVID-19 global health crisis .

Muslims have been compelled to observe the Holy Month amidst sweeping restrictions that make the exercise all different .

Yaounde’s Mosque of Repentance

From April 23 when the month-long fasting began, most Mosques have been empty, but the few faithfuls who make it to there for prayers must strictly respect safety measures.

The Ramadan experience has been completely altered, with very limited chances of organizing communal feasts, prayers and other activities.

But if infections keep soaring, that may not change by May 23, when the fasting wraps up.

Confirmed cases across the globe are now inching close to 4.5 million and over 300,000 deaths.

And the end to the global scare does not seem to be any time soon .

Yaounde’s Mosque Of Repentance moves to homes

The Mosque of Repentance is one of the popular mosques  in Yaounde , Cameroon’s capital city .

Before the COVID-19 imposed the lockdown,  the mosque accommodated at least 200 faithfuls for Friday prayers.

But about two-third of them have now bowed to the pressure of staying at home.

Sheik Youenyouene Aliyou , Rector of the Mosque of Repentance says authorities were forced to ask faithfuls to pray at home .

Sheik Youenyouene Aliyou, Rector of the Mosque of Repentance 

” When the Prime Minister announced the safety measures in March, we tried to organize prayers in groups of 50. Sanitary kits for hand washing were also made available for  faithfuls, and those who did not wear masks were not allowed into the mosque. We also tried to organize prayers in groups of 50, but it proved difficult, so we asked the faithfuls to pray at home. For now, mostly members of the Imam’s family and a few others who live close by pray in the mosque “.

The capacity of the mosque of Repentance has now dropped from 200 faithfuls, to between 20-25, while most homes have become temporal mosques.

Lessons from ‘a small invisible  virus’

Although the global health crisis has come with lots of difficulties and ruptured the daily functioning of the society, the Imam says there are some valuable lessons to learn .

” This is the time when people should kill their pride before their creator. COVID-19 has made human beings understand that they are so vulnerable, and can be killed by a small invisible virus. People should know that there is a king who is God, and can bring the world to end at anytime. Everyone must respect the laws of the land , the laws of life , practice love and peace otherwise, the virus will go and another evil will come”.

Although the crisis still seems to linger on, muslim faithfuls say they are ready to round off the season on May 23, in the most unusual way.

Kathy Neba Sina

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