Ramadaan during lockdown

Soraya Latief breaks her fast with dates and water every night

The Covid-19 pandemic, with its strict curfews and bans on social gatherings, has changed the flavour of this year’s Ramadaan, the Muslim holy month. 

During Ramadan, Muslims wake before dawn to have their first and only meal of the day, until sunset. 

Traditionally the fast is broken with dates and water or a sweet treat to help the body’s blood-glucose levels return to normal. Then families gather for a feast, called “iftaar” or “boekah”, which they will share with their loved ones. They make up a plate of food or treats called barakat (blessings) which they hand out to neighbours or the poor. 

However, this year Soraya Latief, of Kraaifontein, has seen some changes to these traditions. She says that while sticking to the basics of fasting and praying, she cannot have “boekah” with her extended family, and there are none of the mass boekahs that mosques usually hold for all at this time.

To keep track of her prayers, she relies on social media and radio stations where Muslim religious leaders share their sermons. “Prayers that are usually done at mosque are now being done at home, and there will be no mosque on Eid, but we have to adapt to this,” she says.

Friday May 8 will mark the 15th day of Ramadan, or “boeber night” as it’s more commonly known. Boeber is a Cape Malay name for an Indian pudding. 

Ms Latief is thinking of a way to share her boeber with friends and family who have reached the halfway mark in the month of fasting and sacrifices.

“I was wondering if I can ring someone’s bell and leave the boeber at their door. This might be a good way of sharing,” she says.

Fatgiya Williams of Kraaifontein says she is “greatful for lockdown” because there is more time to bond with family and prepare meals for iftar.

“All these years I worked and could hardly cook a decent meal for family,” she says. “This lockdown period has given me the opportunity to spend more time in prayer and reciting the Qur’an.”

Raeez Bailey, of Kuils River, says he and his wife are sharing their first iftar together, but they weren’t prepared for it to happen during lockdown. 

“My wife and I were excited to spend Ramadaan together and have family and friends over at our new place, but now I guess it’s just the two of us.”

Imam Jubyer Miller, a member of the Kraaifontein Islamic Society, says Muslims are continuing to pray at home even though they can no longer pray together at a mosque. “We do miss the congregational prayers but we are content with what the Almighty has ordained.” Social media is used to spread religious lectures, he says. 

How are you coping during the month of Ramadan? Let us know.