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    Lockdown: Belgian Muslims prepare for Ramadan

    Belgian Muslims will face a Ramadan under lockdown. Credit: Belga

    On the eve of Ramadan, Belgian Muslims are facing additional challenges holding their fasting period amid the nationwide lockdown.

    “The upheaval will be two-fold for Muslims this year,” said Franck Hensch, imam of the largest mosque in Verviers (Wallonia), as they prepare for a month abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to sunset.

    Besides the fact that “Ramadan is a special month that upsets our habits and leaves room for introspection,” Hensch pointed out that there is no possibility for “the whole community experience” to take place as lockdown measures in effect until at least 3 May mean the need to adapt in various ways.

    Due to the lockdown, the gathering for large evening meals typically held during Ramadan will not be able to go ahead. At best, people will be able to break the fast with their loved ones’ faces on a screen, Hensch said. 

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    The ban on gatherings also impacts mosques’ ability to hold the ritual night prayers known as tarawih, which normally occur during Ramadan.

    Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered to be the month in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. 

    The beginning of Ramadan is typically determined by the appearance of a new moon. Belgium’s Muslim Executive will meet on Thursday evening and announce whether Ramadan begins on Friday or Saturday.

    The month ends with Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, and is set to occur around 24 May this year, depending on when the lunar crescent occurs.

    Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times