CELEBRATING RAMADAN AMID THE PANDEMIC
In Ramadan, Muslims abstain themselves from consuming food and drinks from dawn until dusk as an act of worship. This act is a symbol of obedience to Allah, empathises the less fortunate and embraces a moderate lifestyle. Yet, Ramadan this year is very different from the previous years as the Movement Control Order (MCO) is still in force due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. As Covid-19 sweeps across the world, the blessed month will be immensely challenging. Notwithstanding the adverse impact on human life the crisis can bring out, it can also bring many advantages.
Some of the Ramadan practices remain but on a limited basis to maintain social distancing. Since the government’s order prohibits people from gatherings and masses, it is certainly also applicable to big families from doing so. The current situation has prompted Muslims to consider other alternatives to perform the tarawih prayers, recite the Quran (tadarus), gather for iftar and practicing other forms of worship within the safe confinement in their homes.
The spread of Covid-19 has given us many lessons to be learnt especially during this fasting month as we have more time to be at home with the children and spouses. Indeed, Muslims should grab this opportunity wisely by continuing the ritual practices and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as eating habits.
Due to the limitations imposed in purchasing groceries, maintaining healthy eating habits could be a challenging duty in order to ensure every member of the household gets the necessary nutrients adequately. Nevertheless, with proper planning, we can always have balanced and nutritious meals for the family without any food wasted.
The impact of the MCO has created worries in buying the right food for healthy eating, that can lead to choosing ready meals and processed foods. However, a healthy, variety and balanced diet can be served for the family with a little bit of effort. During the fasting month, Muslims should make an effort to stay hydrated, stop overeating and make healthy dietary choices such as fresh, unprocessed foods with plenty of green leafy vegetables to ensure the body is strong to fight diseases and also being able to keep healthy.
Everyone must eat well, but only as much as we need to maintain good physical and mental health, and energy, to be able to perform good deeds and acts of worship. As everybody is at home and might be moving less, thus relying on low calorie intake should be taken into consideration. People also should be aware of cooking methods since small changes can create a great taste and make the food healthier. At sahur time, be mindful to take low glycemic index food to control blood sugar level. This includes oat, barley, brown rice, yogurt, milk, broccoli and fruits.
Food intake should be simple and not too different from the normal diet. It requires proper planning in buying groceries and meal planning for the whole week. Besides that, it eases food preparation and gives ample time to perform worship in this special month. Doing better planning in buying groceries does not require one to go out frequently. Risk may also arise from close contact with others when shopping or receiving food. As always, good hygiene is vital to avoid any food-borne illnesses when handling food.
In the context of food consumption, Ramadan in the MCO period is an opportunity to put a stop to bad habits that affect our health and adopt healthier diets as we have the time to plan better. Allah commands that every Muslim must not waste any food and use sources as wisely as needed. Islam prohibits the habits of food wasting and excesses in eating and drinking, as well as others.
During this Corvid 19 outbreak, we have to remain staying at home, thus many beneficial family activities and ritual practices can be done. Several guidelines for different essential purposes have been provided for the public to face the critical circumstances brought about by the pandemic.
In the context of physical distancing, it is important to ensure that family members including the elderly and friends are still engaged through new platforms. If possible, use virtual alternatives or interactive channels such as the digital and social media can be used at home instead of going outdoors to physically meet them. While maintaining public health, engaging virtually could also promote mental and psychosocial wellbeing.
Planning an all-daily routine properly is the utmost importance for every family in celebrating Ramadan as all of us remain indoors to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. It is essential to ensure all family members make use of the time with useful activities together. Indeed, togetherness will enhance family bonding.
Therefore, let us channel the spirit of Ramadan during this challenging time and follow the guidelines provided on physical distancing and practicing good hygiene to help prevent infection. Apparently, Covid-19 is a reset button for us to focus from our physical to the spiritual journey by pushing ourselves to the limit.
Undoubtedly, this Ramadan will never be the same as others we have been used to. Nevertheless, it is the right time to do self-reflections so that we can seize the immense benefits and blessings it offers.