Ramadaan 1441 (2020) during the pandemic: Article 8 – Cambridgeshire, UK

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1. What is your name and where are you from? (Country, City). (Current city where you are spending this Ramadaan).

I’m Fatima, originally from the city of lights called Karachi, located in Pakistan but I moved out of the country almost a decade ago. I lived and worked for a few years in Dubai before moving to England. Although I’ve lived in various different parts of the country, I’m currently living in Cambridgeshire, UK.

 

2. Can you tell us if you are in lockdown? How strict is the lockdown? What are you allowed to do in terms of movement?

Like all other countries, the government of UK has also implemented a lockdown and the residents are only expected to go out for essential work such as for groceries or for exercise whilst maintaining all the aspects of social distancing. The schools, restaurants, gyms, airports and all other such places have been temporarily closed for an uncertain time and everyone have been instructed to work from home. However, the key workers are allowed to go to work. 

In terms of strictness, my town seems to be alright but I believe things are more stricter in areas with dense population such as London and other busy cities. Roads are quite easy to drive around as there’s hardly any traffic, but going for groceries can be quite time consuming as it takes a lot of time due to queuing as social distancing needs to be ensured at all times. 

 

3. Being under these lockdown conditions is sure to have made this Ramadaan different from previous Ramadaans. Can you tell us how this Ramadaan is different? Things that you had done previously in Ramadaan and now due to the lockdown you cannot do these activities?

To be honest, Ramadan 2020 is not much different for me than compared to the years I’ve spent in the past few years. Having to live in Muslim minority areas with no family around and hardly any Muslim friends, we had minimum activity during the month of Ramadan and by this I mean, not getting to meet people as relatives live quite far. Moreover, due to the long fasting hours in the country as well as lack of proper dine in Halal options available in my local town, we hardly ever used to go to any restaurants for Suhoor or Iftaar. Therefore, there hasn’t been much impact on us this Ramadan, due to COVID-19. 

It was very rare that we got invited to any Iftaar parties, and even if we did, we had to drive for 1 hour – 1.5 hours or maybe more to reach the destination as most of the people we know live quite far. However, just a couple of months ago, my family and I have moved to Cambridgeshire as we wanted to be nearer to our faith mosque, and I was really looking forward to meeting new people locally but unfortunately, that couldn’t really happen so far. 

 

4. Can you share a positive message/ impact that spending Ramadaan under these new conditions has brought about for you and/or your country? 

Ramadan 2020 seems to be much quieter than the previous years and it’s totally a different change for all the Muslims around the globe, including those in England. Since people aren’t allowed to leave homes and have been strictly instructed to practice social distancing, all the mosques have been closed. Prayers or any religious gatherings are not being held, neither are Muslims inviting friends and family or visiting them for Iftaar. Also, since they’re spending more time at home, perhaps they’re getting more time to spend with the people in their households and for prayers and other religious activities that can be done from their own homes. 

During this time, I’d just say it’s better in terms of mental health to go with the flow and follow guidelines from the government rather than worrying about anything. Just take precautions, stay indoors and enjoy family time! 

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