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Muslims in Tayside and Fife mark restriction-free Ramadan as fasting begins

Muslims prepare for Ramadan at Friday prayers in Dundee Central Mosque.
Muslims prepare for Ramadan at Friday prayers in Dundee Central Mosque.

Thousands of Muslims from across Tayside and Fife are marking the start of the holy month of Ramadan — the first restriction-free fasting month for three years.

Mosque leaders and local communities have been busy preparing for the religious occasion, which will see millions around the world observe a fast from sunrise to sunset until April 30 or May 1.

Ramadan, which starts in most countries on Saturday, is a joyous occasion for Muslims who gather with family, friends and worshippers to eat and drink each day to break the fast.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, it will be the first time since 2019 that people are able to come together to support each other properly and gather in big numbers at mosques and at homes.

Dundee Central Mosque leader Bashir Chohan said 2022 will be a much-improved Ramadan.

Muslim community group leader, Bashir Chohan, says this year’s Ramadan will be good for people psychologically.

He said: “During the first lockdown, the Mosque was virtually closed.

“Everybody was praying individually at home.

“Last year, Muslims delivered 3000 meals to those in need across Dundee.

“We have to be very cautious because of Covid-19 and will take extra care, but things are more open this year.”

Mosques open to everyone

Ramadan is about giving; Muslims are encouraged to give to charity, deepen their relationship with God, and demonstrate kindness.

The Islamic community practise self-discipline and sacrifice while fasting.

They reflect and show compassion for the vulnerable, disabled and poor.

Muslims delivered packages to homes across Dundee to mark the end of Ramadan in May 2020. Pictured (left to right): Ghulam Ullah, Sarah El-Farargy, & Aamna Naseem.

Last year was marked with significant restrictions, though people were permitted to attend mosques for prayer.

It followed strict rules the year before at the height of the pandemic in the UK in what was described as a Ramadan “like no other in history”.

Mosques were banned from opening in April 2020 when Covid-19 deaths were spiralling.

Mr Chohan said: “Our Mosques are now open widely for everybody.

“During Ramadan month, our Mosque is open 24 hours because our worships increase and people regularly attend.

“We organise breaking the fast and provide food to the worshippers and also those less fortunate.”

Muslims lean on each other to help them through Ramadan. Pictured: Friday prayers at Dundee Central Mosque. Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

The type of fasting carried out in Ramadan is a form of intermittent fasting, whereby the person can only eat during certain times in the day.

Muslims are unable to drink water or eat food between sunrise, which in most of Scotland is around 4.20am, and sunset, around 7.55pm.

Although the main motive for fasting is around worship and to increase empathy for the suffering of others, research has also found fasting can have benefits such as flushing out toxins from the body.

Providing meals throughout Ramadan

When asked about how this year’s experience will be for the Muslim community without restrictions, Mr Chohan said: “It will be fantastic and very good for us psychologically.

Three-year-old Arwa at Friday prayers in Dundee Central Mosque. Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

“We provide and organise meals right across the 30 days of Ramadan.

“We will have around 500-600 people coming to break their fast and eat at the Mosque.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar with fasting one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

At Fife Muslim Educational and Cultural Centre, plans are being organised for the upcoming month.

Ramadan can be even more challenging without the support of others. Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

Fife centre’s chairperson Farzand Shah said: “We expect around 50 people [to attend the mosque on Saturday] but hopefully more.

“The plan is for people to come during the day to worship.

“Then at sundown, people will bring meals to the mosque, and we will eat together as a community.

“We look forward to the month ahead with the ease of Covid-19 restrictions.”

The centre has a timetabled plan detailing times for people to come to break their fast and worship.

The Islamic community openly invites all people to come and visit the mosques to see how things are going and join them with the food.

Ramadan: How to stay happy and healthy if you’re fasting

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