Quiet celebrations like having 'virtual iftars' with family members and praying at home seem to be the norm this year.

Wan Munirah

Published: 1 May 2020, 8:12 PM

Muslims around the world have been welcoming the sacred month of Ramadan quite differently this year. Many well-loved traditions, such as communal meals and congregational prayers at the mosque, were put on hold to minimise the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore.

Youth.SG asked Singaporean youths to find out how they’re celebrating Ramadan amidst COVID-19 and the extended circuit breaker period.

Breaking fast with family at home

“I’m very thankful for this circuit breaker period. It’s the first time my whole family broke our fast together in a while.

“When my family and I are breaking fast together, I appreciate how we can do so in comfortable silence. And when someone starts talking immediately after, the atmosphere will be so lively!

“I think [this Ramadan] will be much more fulfilling. It definitely won’t be the same, but that shouldn’t stop us from making the best out of it. I’ll always cherish being able to break my fast with my family.” – Aqilah Salim, 19, Student

Aqilah Salim (centre) would enjoy sweet treats prepared by the mosque after going for terawih prayers with her relatives. PHOTO CREDIT: AQILAH SALIM

Catching up with family over ‘virtual iftars’

“Since young, I’ve always been surrounded by my family and friends during Ramadan and Hari Raya. With the current circuit breaker, the separation is more painful.

“When it gets too lonely, I usually FaceTime my family and friends to fill up the time. I’ve also had virtual iftar several times with my aunt who usually eats alone. It’s really nice to be able to see her face and have iftar together, even if it’s virtually.

“Even if it wasn’t Ramadan, it’s important to constantly stay in touch with friends online during this circuit breaker period. Communicating with friends and family once in a while supports both parties emotionally and mentally.” – Syarah Adlina, 18, Student

Ustaz Tamliikha Khamsani (pictured) usually leads the terawih prayers in mosques during Ramadan. PHOTO CREDIT: TAMLIIKHAA KHAMSANI

Adapting to a new routine

“My Ramadan experience over the past few years was very different. I used to break my fast at mosques around Singapore because I led the terawih prayers.

“I’ll usually be at the mosque at least 30 minutes before breaking fast to sit down with my Muslim brothers. Back then, seeing everyone seated down with a meal reminds me of the true essence of equality and compassion.

“This year, I don’t get to have a feast with my migrant worker brothers [at the mosques] anymore. That saddens me a little, but for the safety of the nation, I’ll be very understanding.” – Tamliikhaa Khamsani, 29, Uztaz and Founder of Islamic Value Meal

This year’s Hari Raya light-up event along Geylang Serai is postponed due to the circuit breaker. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG

Coming forward to share more about their faith

“This is my first Ramadan as a married couple and we’re not living with either of our parents. Coming from a tight-knit, boisterous family – we take turns cooking and do all our evening and morning prayers together – this year has been very quiet, but thankfully not a lonely one.

“Apart from missing family, Ramadan is usually the time when most Muslims try to reconnect with God as much as possible. We go to the mosques, attend classes, read more Quran, and do more charity. I’m sure everyone is feeling the loss.

“However, I’m so proud that the asatizah (religious teachers) community has stepped up and taken on the challenge of bringing the learning and the community spirit of Ramadan online and into people’s homes.

“On some evenings, I spend some time pre-recording religious content to be uploaded online on the Muslim.Sg platform. I also scheduled a few live sessions where I will go live with youth representatives from mosques or my asatizah colleagues to tackle certain faith-related topics.

“It’s truly an opportunity to be of service in whatever way possible, and I am very thankful for that.” – Marhamah Senewi, 25, Ustazah

Muslims usually break their fast with dates. PHOTO CREDIT: NAIM BENJELLOUN FROM PEXELS

Skipping a few traditions this year

“During Ramadan, my family would bake Hari Raya cookies and my aunt would come over to help out. But I don’t think we’ll be baking this year.

“The first day of Hari Raya is going to be quite different. On the morning of Hari Raya, I’m usually one of the first few to wake up in my family and I’d eat my mum’s cooking like rendang and ayam masak merah. I don’t know if my mum is going to cook the usual Raya food, though. It’s so uncertain.

“While I won’t be able to wear my colourful, pretty baju kurung and take OOTD pictures like I normally do, I might have a photo shoot at home with the rest of my family instead!” – Nurul Hidayah, 19, Student

Hari Raya is a time for families and friends to visit each other and catch up. PHOTO CREDIT: MUHD HARUN

Gearing up for a quieter Hari Raya celebration

“Due to the massive flight reductions amidst this pandemic, I have been at home, waiting to be activated. With Ramadan and the circuit breaker extension, I feel like I get to bond with my family even more.

Previously, we didn’t have a habit of having our meals together, and only Ramadan allows us to all be seated at the dinner table twice a day without fail. We also perform our terawih prayers together at home, and it feels more private and tranquil.

Fasting this year is definitely easier. I don’t have to continually adapt to different time zones and mealtimes, which I had to do previously due to my job.

There’s also less pressure to impress, especially in the first week of Hari Raya. There won’t be a rush to get outfits, snacks and drinks, and to decorate the house.

With the circuit breaker ending during the first week of Hari Raya, I’m sure the typical Hari Raya vibes will emerge eventually.” – Shaiful Haziq, 23, Flight Steward

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