This week saw the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, when Muslims fast from food and drink daily, from dawn to sunset. A time of prayer and reflection, it’s also a time to come together with family, community and friends to celebrate the end of fasts with big shared meals.
However, in this second Ramadan in lockdown, many of the more social aspects of the month are harder to undertake safely.
Many Muslims will still be breaking their fast alone in the evening, while health workers especially may find the daytime fasting challenging if wearing full PPE.
UNISON’s national Black members’ committee said: “Although some COVID-19 measures were relaxed on 12 April, there are still restrictions in place which mean that Muslims cannot experience the Iftar – the fast-breaking meal at sunset – with friends and family in person.
“Online events such as the Big Virtual Iftar have enabled the traditional gathering – albeit virtually – and invitations have been extended to people of all faiths or no faith.”
The NHS has published guidance on how Muslims can stay safe and well at work during Ramadan, and encourages employers to accommodate religious beliefs and practices.
Islamic leaders and medical experts across the world have confirmed that taking the vaccine does not break the fast. Many medical centres in the UK have also extended their opening times to ensure vaccines are available to those who are observing Ramadan.
The committee continued: “Ramadan in 2020 saw many Muslims working on the frontline fighting this pandemic as essential workers. Ramadan in 2021 sees the rollout of a vaccination programme helping to minimise the impact of COVID-19.
“Whether you are working on the frontline, facilitating vaccines or sharing food and conversation virtually, the national Black members’ committee wishes a blessed Ramadan Mubarak to our Muslim members.”