In pics | Muslims open Ramadan with social distanced prayers, vaccines Throughout Ramadan, Muslims abstain from any food or drink — including water — from morning to night. The monthlong practice is aimed at heightening remembrance of God, curbing unhealthy habits and deepening gratitude.
April 14, 2021 / 03:39 PM IST
Muslims in many parts of the world marked the start of Ramadan on Tuesday, but a spike in coronavirus cases in several countries has once again put curbs on the holy month's signature feasts and lengthy prayers in mosques. Still, there were glimmers that Ramadan 2021 could feel less restricted than last year when Islam’s holiest period coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Mosques have since reopened and limits on movement have eased as vaccine rollouts continue in Muslim-majority nations. Ramadan is marked by longer prayers, dawn-to-dusk fasting, and nightly feasts with family and friends, though crowded shoulder-to-shoulder gatherings in mosques and large gatherings for meals remain prohibited due to the continued spread of coronavirus globally. (Image: AP)
In Mecca, home to the Kaaba — Islam’s most sacred site — Muslims performed socially distanced “Taraweeh” prayers, marking the start of Ramadan. Observant Muslims around the world pray toward the Kaaba five times a day. Only limited numbers of worshippers were being allowed inside the Grand Mosque that houses the Kaaba to prevent the spread of the virus. Saudi authorities were only allowing individuals who’ve been vaccinated or recently recovered from the virus to perform Taraweeh prayers at the Kaaba. (Image: AP)
Indonesian Muslims pray spaced apart as they practice social distancing to curb the spread of the new coronavirus during an evening prayer called "tarawih" marking the first eve of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday, April 12, 2021.
In Indonesia, COVID-19 cases are also spiking. Mosques are being allowed to open for Ramadan prayers with strict protocols in place. The government will allow people to hold “iftar” gatherings during Ramadan in restaurants, malls, and cafes, which can open at 50 percent capacity. Iftar is the sought-after moment when Muslims traditionally break their daylong fast by eating dates and taking a sip of water before feasting with friends and family. (Image: AP)
Footwear left outside as people perform an evening prayer called 'tarawih' during the first evening of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, at a mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, April 12, 2021. (Image: AP)
Israel was allowing 10,000 fully vaccinated Palestinian residents of the West Bank to pray in the al-Aqsa mosque on the first Friday of Ramadan. The sacred mosque in Jerusalem is open for prayers during Ramadan amid Israel’s rapid vaccination rollout. “We hope that it will be a good month after the great setback that the whole world was exposed to,” Jerusalem shop owner Reyad Hallaq said. (Image: AP)
Hagia Sophia dominates Istanbul's skyline, with the Golden Horn in the foreground, Monday, April 12, 2021. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was forced to announce renewed restrictions following a spike on COVID-19 cases, such as weekend lockdowns and the closure of cafes and restaurants during Ramadan, the holy Muslim month, starting on April 13. (Image: AP)
People pray at the Eyup Sultan Mosque, in Istanbul, Monday on April 12, 2021, a day before Ramadan. (Image: AP)
Muslims pray as they practice social distancing during an evening prayer called "tarawih" marking the first eve of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Chicago's Muslim Community Center on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Image: AP)
In Lebanon, most Muslims began Ramadan on Tuesday amid soaring inflation. The small country is in the grips of the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, with the Lebanese currency losing some 80 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in past months. The crisis — a result of decades of endemic corruption and mismanagement — has been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. Many people were having to scale back their Ramadan preparations. Here, a man wearing a face mask sits inside a restaurant with Ramadan decorations in Beirut, Lebanon on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Image: AP)
Cleric Ahmad Rahmani, right, who is an astrology expert briefs other clerics and seminary students about the process of sighting the new moon that signals the start of the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan, at the Imam Ali observatory about 28 miles (45 kilometers) outside the holy city of Qom, south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Muslims around the world are observing Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, where they refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex from dawn to dusk. (Image: AP)
In India, where infections have peaked in recent days, scholars are appealing to the country's 200 million Muslims to follow anti-virus protocols and refrain from large gatherings. Many Indian cities dealing with virus surges have imposed nighttime curfews, and it remains unclear whether the faithful will be allowed to perform Taraweeh prayers in mosques. In Pakistan and Iran, fasting is expected to begin Wednesday. The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has refused to close mosques in Pakistan, even as new infections reach levels similar to the start of the pandemic.