Muslims open Ramadan with social distance prayer, vaccine

Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) —Indonesian Muslims hold Ramadan in a joint prayer on Tuesday, as opposed to an empty mosque a year ago when the holy month of Islam coincided with the beginning of a coronavirus pandemic. I started to mark.

Cases of COVID-19 are skyrocketing in the world’s most populous Islamic countries, but are being vaccinated and the government is deregulating. Mosques are allowed to open for Ramadan prayers with strict health protocols, and when malls and cafes are open, passers-by can revisit curtains that block food from fasters. I did.

Indonesia’s Minister of Religion Yaqut Choril Qoumas announced in a speech aired Monday evening that a new moon had been discovered. The holy moon is characterized by intense prayer, fasting from dawn to dusk, and nightly feasts.

Last year, authorities closed all mosques, priests issued fatwas or edicts, urging Muslims to pray at home in the holy month, rather than risking gathering in crowded areas to spread the virus. did.

Nasaldin Umar, an imam of the Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Jakarta, said Muslims are hoping for a resurgence of the virus this year, but all mosques continue to adhere to social distances and other precautions, significantly increasing the crowd. Said that it would be reduced to.

“I already miss everything in Ramadan. The loyal Muslim mind is tied to the mosque … The pandemic is not over yet, but the yearning for Ramadan lovers has finally eased today.”

In the capital city of Jakarta, authorities disinfected 317 mosques on Sunday in preparation for Ramadan, said Jakarta Governor Anis Baswedan. Social distance markers were installed and soap and hand sanitizers were prepared.

The government also allows “Iftar” gatherings to be held in restaurants, malls and cafes during Ramadan. This allows us to serve up to 50% of our customers’ capacity and follow strict health guidelines.

Iftar occurs at sunset. It is the time for Muslims to fast and is usually the best time to have a supper with friends and family before the evening prayer.

“Relaxing the restrictions is like a breath of fresh air for those of us who are tired of this COVID-19 outbreak,” said Anna Mardyastuti, a resident of Jakarta. “Yes, they should act to stop the virus, but they should not block the door to worship or completely change the Ramadan tradition,” she said.

Indonesia is the most devastating country in Southeast Asia, with more than 1.5 million infected and more than 42,600 dead as of Monday.

The Ministry of Health will maintain vaccine deployment through Ramadan as it seeks to alleviate concerns about Islamic teachings that Muslims should refrain from “whatever enters the body” between sunrise and sunset. ..

Indonesia’s premier Islamic clergy group has stated that vaccinated Muslims are not only allowed but also “necessary” to be vaccinated during Ramadan.

Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during the day during Ramadan, but the vaccine does not negate fasting because it enters the muscles rather than the bloodstream and is not nutritious, says Fatwa of the Indonesian Ulema Council. Responsible person Asrorun Niam Sholeh said.

“Continuing vaccination can guarantee that the next Ramadan will return to normal,” Sholeh said.

Several vaccine sites in Jakarta have extended their business hours so that Muslims can come after a fast.

Indonesia plans to vaccinate more than 180 million people by the end of next year, two-thirds of its population of about 270 million. Current priorities are healthcare professionals, the elderly and other at-risk people, and double-dose vaccines are provided free of charge to all Indonesians.