Ramadan and The Coronavirus Crisis: What Are Recommendations of Sunni and Shiite Scholars For Afghan Citizens?

Yesterday Thursday April 24, Kabul was crowded more than ever. Vendors at a number of shops said people had come to the market to buy their needs for the Ramadan month.

This year, during the holy month of Ramadan comes at a critical juncture of the coronavirus outbreak. Although doctors recommend that citizens drink more water and fluids on a daily basis to prevent the virus from spreading, most of the Kabul residents are now looking to prepare food for the holy month of Ramadan, while many people have become unemployed and have no income for this month.

Challenges of Ramadan

Previously, the food prices had also risen sharply with the arrival of the Ramadan month, this time in addition to rising food prices, unemployment and the coronavirus have impacted on people’s lives.

“The arrival of the holy month of Ramadan coincides with the outbreak of the coronavirus,” said President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday. “I expect the Muslims of the country will perform their worship according to the advice of the country’s scholars and the Ministry of Public Health. The Afghan government is using all its resources to control the outbreak of coronavirus in the community and during this holy month and help the poor of society.”

Besmillah is a day laborer who is unemployed these days.

“How can we fast, how can we spend the month of Ramadan even when we sometimes have a hard time earning money for a bread? I wish we could at least had work that we had to use it,” Besmillah told Reporterly.

A number of workers standing next to each other in an area and had no attention to Coronavirus’s dangers, but stressed that if they were not helped, they would die of hunger before Corona’s infection.

The Critical Situation

With the arrival of Ramadan month, the Council of Shiite Scholars of Afghanistan is urging traders and vendors to work to reduce food prices and make them available to the public this month.

The council issued a statement on the occasion, saying that giving Iftar to people in need has many rewards that must be taken into account by the people in charge.

In addition, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) continues to emphasize the need to maintain the social distancing and urges people to continue to pay attention to movement restrictions and to avoid unreasonable gatherings.

The country’s Ulema also stressed the need to observe health issues, saying that during this month, all people can hold prayers at home and be diligent in maintaining their health.

Mawlawi Habibullah Hessam, head of the Afghan Islamic Brotherhood Council, told Reporterly:  “fasting are good for mental and physical health, and there is no danger to people because of coronavirus.”

But on this occasion, Mawlawi Fazl Karim Siraji, head of guidance and mosque affairs at the Ministry of Hajj, said: “On the day of the conference of the leadership of the Ministry, a fatwa issued from the ministry which made it clear that the sick, the elderly people should not attend regular and Friday prayers.”

Taraweeh prayers

He also spoke about the opening of mosques, adding that holding Friday and Taraweeh prayers are in full compliance with all the measures recommended by the Ministry of Health.

Although the Ministry of Health has said that any gatherings should be prevented, the ministry emphasizes that the Taraweeh prayers should be performed at home.

The Ministry of Hajj has said that people can pray in the mosques with wearing masks, perform ablutions at home, have their own prayers, and avoid direct and face-to-face contact.

Meanwhile, the Council of Shiite Scholars has explicitly called on the people to refrain from holding any gatherings this month and to perform their prayers and worship at home. Because this global disease is dangerous, and everyone must fight to survive this crisis while maintaining their health.

Mawlawi Habibullah Hessam also added: “Everyone’s fatwa is that prayers in big gatherings should be prevented. We also welcome this because we must take the premise of everything first and foremost, which is the health of individuals and people. We don’t need to have magnificent gatherings for prayers in this situation as we did in the past, while the health of the people is in jeopardy, so everyone can stay at their homes to pray and worship this month.”

Concerns have been raised that the number of positive coronavirus cases in the country have reached 1,226 so far, of which 177 have recovered and 40 have died so far.

Zackaria Noori contributed reporting.

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