'A very different Ramadan' for Maidenhead muslims

The impact of the coronavirus will make for ‘a very different Ramadan this year’, according to the secretary of Maidenhead Mosque.

With the place of worship in Holmanleaze closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Muslim community is being encouraged to pray at home during the holy month, which began on Friday evening at sunset.

Sajid Khan said: “Ramadan is a celebration of holy month, which is the holiest month in our calendar, where people fast during the day and pray at night-time.

“It’s a time for reflection and connecting with God.”

During the month of Ramadan Muslims end their daily fast with ‘Iftar’, an evening meal eaten at sunset.

Sajid said usually ‘the mosque would be buzzing’ during Iftar, with about 70-80 people breaking the fast together.

The mosque also sees an increase in the number of people attending Friday prayer, from 1,000 to about 1,500 during Ramadan, with the Eid Prayer after the holy month attracting up to 2,100 people.

Although this cannot be the case this year, Sajid says ‘it’s going to be a positive Ramadan because we’ve got to make do with what we’ve got’.

“It’s a very different Ramadan this year, because what we will be doing is we’ll be praying at home,” said Sajid.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a very exciting time for all of us, and our children,” he added. “I’m sure they’ll experience a stronger Ramadan because everybody’s around them.”

As well as ‘spending time with your family’ Sajid also said that Ramadan is about ‘connecting with the mosque’ which Maidenhead Mosque will be enabling with daily talks from Imam Abid Hashmi.

The talks will be transmitted live at the Zuhr prayer, at 1.30pm, and at the start of the Isha prayer – the fifth prayer of the day.

These will be given on a range of topics ‘which really affect people during Ramadan’ and the mosque will also live stream the Adhan, the call to prayer, at these times.

However, something that is hard to replicate virtually during the holy month is the Taraweeh, traditionally read every day at the mosque after the Isha prayer.

“We try to read the whole Quran during the Taraweeh,” said Sajid. “The community is very lucky to listen to that, so this year that is what we will be missing.”

Sajid said Taraweeh can be read anywhere, but that listening to an expert reciter of the Quran in a mosque is ‘a different kind of feeling’.

Sajid said he read every single Taraweeh at the mosque last year, and that this year he’ll probably ‘read every single one at home’.

“That means an extra hour-and-a-half praying together as a family unit and that’s got its own benefits and positives around it,” he said.

Charity, and thinking about the wider community is also a very important part of Ramadan.

“When you’re hungry for example, you would always think about other people,” said Sajid.

“This month Muslims have to pay ‘Zakat’ which is a compulsory charity, if they’ve got enough money themselves, which is about 2.5 per cent of their savings.”

During Ramadan Sajid said the Muslim community will also be doing all those ‘things which you should be doing any way’ including being nice to people and not being rude.

“This is the month where you condition yourself for the rest of the year,” he said.

Imam Hashmi talks will be broadcasted by Facebook at www.facebook.cpm/maidenheadmosque and YouTube at tinyurl.com/ybha5v2h

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