Dundee’s Muslim community will begin a month of Ramadan tonight.
The 30-day fasting period is marked when the first crescent of the new moon is clearly visible.
The High Judicial Council in Saudi Arabia confirmed the moon sighting on Monday evening and the first fast will begin at sunrise on Tuesday.
It is the second Ramadan in lockdown for Muslims, although restrictions have eased in time to allow mosques to open for prayer, unlike last year.
More freedoms will be in place in time for the Eid al-Fitr festival in 30 days, marking the end of the fast.
‘Wonderful to meet at the mosque’
In Dundee, Muslims are delighted to be able to pray together, albeit from a distance, at the city’s mosques.
Bashir Chohan, chairman of Dundee’s Islamic community, said: “Ramadan is hugely important in our calendar so it is wonderful to be able to meet at this mosque this year – unlike last year when everyone had to stay at home for prayer.
“Normally there would be hundreds of people gather at the mosques but due to social distancing we can no longer do that.
“At the Central Mosque we will instead a have three or four different prayer times when groups of 50 can get together.
“We will fast every day until sunset for 30 days then we will break our fast, having our food in the early hours of the morning.”
Normally during Ramadam the Central Mosque would welcome vulnerable and less well off people for food, offering free dinners for students and the local community to break their fasts, also known as Iftars.
This year meals will instead be delivered to those in need.
He said: “We cannot have them to the mosque for that this year so we are taking food out into the community instead.
“We will be preparing food at the mosque and delivering it to those who need it.
“Meals will then leave the mosque around half an hour before sunset, when we break our fast.”
“We have all pulled together as a community during this pandemic and have worked with other groups throughout Dundee to help those who have needed our aid,” he added.
“It has been a time when we have been able to work well as a community and with others in the city.”
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a holy month dedicated to prayer and reading the Quran. Generosity and giving to worthy causes and neighbours is encouraged.
It is a period for reflection, self-restraint and warmth intended to bring Muslims closer to Allah.
Adult Muslims observing the month will fast from sunrise to sunset. They will also abstain from smoking and sexual activity.
Muslims have been advised by the British Islamic Medical Association, that they can have the coronavirus vaccine during Ramadan as it is not nutritional and does not contain any animal or foetal products.
Iftekhar Yaqub, president of Dundee Islamic Society, said: “We are all absolutely delighted to be able to be in the mosque to observe Ramadan together.
“This was not possible last year because of the pandemic so we are very grateful to be able to come together this year.
“It has been a difficult time and last year was a very different Ramadan for us but we have worked hard to support each other through this time.”