No iftar parties, no special outings, and no taraweeh prayers in mosques — Ramzan 2020 will be unlike any other that Indian Muslims have ever experienced. And while community leaders have reiterated their appeals to stay at home and observe the ritual fasting and prayers indoors, some younger Muslims in Delhi have decided to spend the holy month doing something new to help out people in the time of the lockdown.
“The guidelines are very clear. No mosque will be opened till the lockdown is lifted and new rules come into place. People will have to pray at their homes during Ramzan,” Basit Ali, spokesperson of the Delhi Waqf Board, told ThePrint.
Volunteering to help people
An important part of Ramzan is also the taraweeh — up to 20 rakats of additional prayers performed in congregation every night of the holy month. But with the lockdown restricting all movement and assembly, mosques which would ordinarily be thronged for taraweeh prayers are set to bear deserted looks this time around.
“I thought to myself, we can either let the entire situation make us feel defeated and anxious, or we can do something about it,” Irtiza Quraishi, 33-year-old founder of Delhi-based NGO Marham, told ThePrint.
Quraishi chose the latter, and called for volunteers in a Facebook post: “How about delivering ration to 20 extremely needy families as an alternate (sic) to offering 20 rakaat taraweeh every evening in first 20 days of Ramadaan? And then offer taraweeh at home in isolation.”
There were a number of requirements volunteers had to fulfil — be willing to work for the first 20 nights of Ramzan from 8 pm to 11 pm, have a car, live in an area of Delhi which is not a hotspot, and be ready to drive every evening within Delhi to deliver ration kits.
But within a day’s time, Quraishi’s inbox was flooded, with over 60 people volunteering to help distribute the rations across various parts of the city.
The Hamdard National Foundation has given ration kits worth Rs 20 lakh to Quraishi’s team, and they have already started distributing aid in the city.
“The only issue is that of travel. Even though we have curfew passes, there is a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation. A lot of our volunteers sport beards, wear kurta-pyjamas — they don’t want to be seen as violating any rules when they clearly aren’t,” Quraishi said.
Encouragement through design
It isn’t just NGOs, politicians and clerics who have made appeals to remain indoors during Ramzan.
‘Minimal Muslim’, a design start-up based in New Delhi, has released a series of graphics using its signature minimalist design in the run up to Ramzan. The graphics include the message: “This Ramadan we have a bigger responsibility. #BeAResponsibleMuslim.”
The graphics then go on to list out things to avoid this Ramzan: “Avoid Iftar parties, we understand you will miss it badly but we must help stop the spread of coronavirus. Have it with your family,” one graphic reads.
“Avoid taraweeh jamat,” reads another graphic, “even in basement, parking or terrace. Only family members or house-mates may do jamat (sic).”
Amir Equabal, founder of Minimal Muslim, said this is his attempt to visually communicate what is important for the community to note before Ramzan.
“We are also designing a Ramzan schedule of sorts. Vague directions are usually tough to follow, but this schedule will include specific names of charity organisations in all parts of Delhi that people can donate to during Ramzan, and other important things they should focus on,” Equabal said.
This report was published on The Print