Deputy President Sheikh Riad Fataar says as the country faces a 21-day national lockdown to stop infection, it is too early to determine the possible implications for the holy month, which will begin a week after the shutdown ends on 16 April.
He says this is the first time in the history of the country that a global pandemic has had an impact on religious practices - already resulting in the suspension of Jumu’ah prayers a week ago.
The Daily Voice asked how the restrictions would impact prayers (Taraweeh and Eid salaah) and boeka tyd and if there were dietary guidelines for those fasting, as well as hygiene considerations for food distribution.
“At this stage it is too early to tell if Ramadaan will be impacted by this,” says the sheikh.
“The MJC will assess the situation after the shutdown as this will depend on whether or not the infection curve is flattened.
“We are calling on the Muslim community to remain calm and adhere to the calls by President Cyril Ramaphosa to work towards flattening the curve by adhering to the shutdown rules and follow hygiene guidelines.”
He adds: “Taraweeh prayers and the sharing of meals at mosques during Ramadaan could be affected and this is sad because many people attend Maghrieb for these prayers as it is part of the spiritual build-up, but it is too early to say if this will be affected.
“At this stage we still think it is possible for people to fast. People are feeling sad but we call on people not to despair as we are in the hands of Allah.
“In every calamity there is good which can come. People should spend this time in prayer and with their families.”
Fataar says while many Muslims partake in fitr (charity) during Ramadaan, they are calling on people to find other ways to help those less fortunate, to avoid crowds. Following calls for social distancing, mass thikrs in Manenberg have been put on hold.
Each Thursday hundreds of mense gather in gang hotspots to pray together and share a meal.
Moulana Sameeg Norodien says they were forced to end the thikrs to curb the spread of the dreaded virus.
“It has become and institution in our community but because of the hundreds of people, we needed to put a stop to it,” he says. “It is a very sad time for our community.”