Ramadan starts amid unprecedented lockdown restrictions including Mecca and Medina mosque closings

Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest shrines in Islam, announced that the holy fasting month of Ramadan would begin on Friday, as Muslims around the world face unprecedented restrictions to fight the coronavirus.

“Based on the observation of the moon in the new month … it has been decided that Friday is the beginning of the month of Ramadan,” the royal court said on Thursday in a statement quoted by the SPA news agency.

King Salman said he was saddened that Muslims could not pray in mosques because of the restrictions imposed by the coronaviruses.

“I am sorry that the holy month arrives in circumstances which prevent us from performing group prayers and Taraweeh – special Ramadannight prayers – in mosques due to precautionary measures aimed at protecting the life and health of people in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, “said the king. said in a statement quoted by SPA.

Muslim observers refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk during Ramadan and gather with family to break the fast in the evening.

It is also a month of prayer during which Muslims traditionally converge in large numbers in mosques, especially at night.

But due to the coronavirus, almost all Muslim-majority countries have closed mosques and asked people to pray at home in addition to imposing curfews to limit the spread of the deadly virus.

In Yemen, the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sanaa noted that ramadancie when the country is struggling with war and affliction.

“Across Yemen, celebrations will mark the holy month of Islam this year amid ongoing conflicts, seasonal diseases, floods and rising prices, in a country where the economic situation does not allow the two third of the population to have access to food or to afford enough food, “the ICRC said in a report.

The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen has called for the cessation of hostilities in a war that has killed tens of thousands of civilians.

“To the parties to the conflict, I say: let yourself be guided by the spirit of the holy month and put an end to the suffering of your people,” said Martin Griffiths.

“Lower your arms. Free all those who have lost their freedom because of the conflict. Open the humanitarian corridors. Concentrate on coordinating your efforts to help your country respond to the pandemic and other needs emergency, “he added.

Most Arab countries, including Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Bahrain, announced Friday as the first day of Ramadan.

Several countries have eased restrictions on the holy month, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and others reducing the length of closings.

The United Arab Emirates said on Thursday that it had decided to ease the total lockdown to an eight-hour night curfew and also moved to partially reopen malls and markets.

The start date of Ramadan, the holiest Muslim month, is determined by both lunar calculations and physical observations that determine when one month ends and another begins.