Ramadan, a month filled with happiness and joy for Muslims around the world anticipating its arrival, this is now met curious eyes as believers around the world wonder about the Holy month’s celebration and how it will be celebrated with the current pandemic situation.
Ramadan is a Holy month of fasting, which is one of the main five principles and pillars of Islam. Traditionally, Ramadan has always been celebrated in large gatherings with huge feasts; there is no doubt that Ramadan, this year, will be different than anything we have experienced before.
Due to the Covid-19 situation, the United Arab Emirates government has put in place proactive measures to ensure our safety during the Holy Month of Ramadan, including the proscription of large gatherings, additional safety guidelines including avoiding distributing and exchanging meals between homes and families. As a result, a significant transformation will take place in our standard Ramadan practices. In effect, where families would have usually gathered and would have occasionally gone out for Iftar (the meal eaten at sunset, after fasting), these gatherings will this year occur less often, and in much smaller numbers, on account of social distancing regulations.
So how will we celebrate this year? The preceding months have equipped us with new skills and perhaps more flexibility about how we do things. Therefore, we intend to take full advantage of all acquired skills using technology and our newly acquired skills to celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan in creative ways. At home, and although having gatherings is still not allowed, it is very possible for families to meet on TEAM, Facetime, or Zoom to share their day’s experience, and to have virtual Iftars together too. This helps bring families closer together during hardships.
On the other hand, our school has put together a rich and diverse Ramadan programme to ensure students have a plethora of opportunities to celebrate this Holy month. Activities include student-led live Ramadan assemblies, Quran competitions, students tips to live the true spirit of Ramadan, Ramadan calendar, community virtual Iftar, GNS families live quizzes, Ramadan facts and FAQs written by students, short movies about Ramadan, and many other events that focus on Ramadan values, students leadership and how the community is coming together during this Holy month. Ramadan is always enriching at GEMS Al Barsha National School, but this year’s programme promises even more activities and opportunities for us to come together and lead on events. The student-led Ramadan assemblies are particular highlights of the month, with special focus on Islamic values, including righteousness to parents, being good examples and happiness. The virtual Iftar will also allow us to share a very special moments from home, introducing our friends and teachers to our families, Ramadan traditions and Iftar etiquette.
The pandemic has certainly been a challenging experience to all of us, but it has taught us to be more appreciative, to think outside the box and find solutions to keep celebrating our lives and remain a cohesive community. We are looking forward to celebrating Ramadan in a very special way this year, prioritising health measures, honouring traditions but also developing new ways of doing that adds a touch of creativity and innovation to our celebrations.
The writers are students of Year 9B at GEMS Al Barsha National School