by BERNAMA / pic by TMR FILE
KUALA LUMPUR – Ramadan is here again. It is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, charity and religious devotion.
Being the third of the five pillars – or duties – of Islam, fasting during Ramadan is mandatory for all healthy adult Muslims. During Ramadan, the spiritual aspect of fasting is enhanced as Muslims spend more time praying and reflecting on their relationship with their Creator and being closer with members of their family.
Muslims in the country yesterday welcomed Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, by fasting from dawn to dusk, and some performed nightly tarawih prayers in mosques and suraus. Ramadan holds greater significance to reap rewards from the Almighty Allah.
This year’s Ramadan is long awaited as for two consecutive years, congregational prayers at mosques and suraus were restricted under the Movement Control Order (MCO) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in a nationwide address on March 8, announced Malaysia’s transition to endemic phase of COVID-19 starting April 1, enabling the people to return to near-normal life after nearly two years of battling the pandemic. Congregational prayers are now allowed without physical distancing procedures starting April 1.
On preparations for Ramadan, celebrity preacher and motivational speaker, Ustazah Asni Abu Mansor said Muslims should be grateful and make the best of the full “freedom” given to enliven mosques and suraus during the month.
“Praise to Allah, (we) are now allowed to go to the mosque without restrictions as before. This is a very good opportunity for all of us to congregate at the mosque. No more physical distancing means we are able to strengthen our bonds of unity and solidarity among Muslims,” she said.
Ustazah Asni also called on the Muslim ummah (community) to spend this year’s Ramadan by expressing both praise and gratitude to Allah for being able to celebrate Ramadan as normal, after nearly two years of restrictions due to COVID-19.
“As Muslims, we should always be grateful to Allah SWT for his blessings and for giving us the opportunity to once again celebrate Ramadan this year. Some have left us due to COVID-19 and Ramadan 2021 was the last for us. As such, for those who are still able to fast and perform the sunnah (supplementary) tarawih prayers, be thankful,” she added.
“To be more grateful in life means that we are also allowing ourselves to be happier, more contented and more satisfied with everything that has been going on around us. We are actually not unhappy, it’s just that we are less grateful,” she added.
ENLIVENING MOSQUES, SURAUS
Meanwhile, celebrity preacher Dr Taha Mohd Omar also invited the Muslim ummah to enliven mosques and suraus including at their workplace with recitations of verses from the holy Quran through tadarus (reciting) activities.
“Breaking fast and tazkirah (short religious talks) events as well as maghrib, isyak and tarawih prayers can now be held as we have not been able to perform congregational prayers in large numbers since 2020,” said Taha, who is also the Director of Codam Education & Consultancy Centre.
He also urged the Muslim community to enhance their devotion to Allah by performing solat hajat (prayer of need) during this Ramadan to seek help from the Almighty Allah SWT in the search for lead medicines capable of breaking COVID-19’s clutch.
“By enlivening the House of Allah SWT during this holy month, Allah will shower His blessings and make them abundant. Through sunnah hajat prayers and specific doa (prayer) seeking Allah’s intervention to wipe COVID-19 off the face of the Earth, we can expect our lives to return to normal with economic recovery back on track as well as fostering ukhuwah (a sense of brotherhood) in the mosque and communal goodwill,” he said.
Ramadan can be enriched at home by preparing a daily timetable for ibadah (acts of worship) programmes for the family such as reciting the Quran, zikir (remembrance of Allah) and selawat (salutations and blessings upon Prophet Muhammad), he said, adding that a target can be set for the family to perform more ibadah activities and charity compared to previous years.
BLESSINGS FROM CLOSING GAPS (SAF)
Taha, who was also the runner-up in the third season of the Mimbar Pencetus Ummah 2015 programme said, there are various blessings behind the imam’s call for congregants to close the gaps (‘saf’) between them before the start of jemaah prayers, by standing shoulder-to-shoulder, a practice which was not allowed since the past two years due to the pandemic.
It was narrated (by Anas bin Malik) from a hadith that the Prophet Muhammad SAW said: “Make your rows straight for I can see you behind my back.” Anas added, “Every one of us used to put his shoulder with the shoulder of his companion and his foot with the foot of his companion.”
“Here it can be seen that Prophet Muhammad SAW stressed that for congregational prayers, rows should be straightened and gaps closed so that each of us adjoin our shoulder with those of our companions and also (adjoining) our feet with those of our companions,” he said.
“Muslims unite in the ritual and language of prayer. When they pray together, they stand shoulder to shoulder. Their proximity to each other demonstrates unity.
“The ranks of the Muslims have become solidly united during Ramadan as the congregational prayers help them purify their souls and do good deeds. Seize the day by knowing the person next to you, whom you may not know before,” he said.
He said standing shoulder to shoulder helps congregants close up the intervening spaces for Satan to penetrate what is between them, hence contributing to the steadfast of the heart when facing Allah with humility and humbleness during prayers.
Following the nation’s transition into the endemic phase, most religious authorities have allowed Friday and obligatory prayers as well as tarawih prayers up till 20 rakaat (unit of prayer) to be performed without having to observe the physical distancing rule.
In addition, breaking fast, moreh (supper) or light refreshments after tarawih prayers and sahur (pre-dawn meal) are also allowed in mosques and suraus.
Tadarus and religious talks are also permitted in most states and congregants are just asked to bring their own sejadah (prayer mats), and importantly, they must be fully vaccinated from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Taha reminded the community to exercise caution and not let their guard down after being given their “freedom” this Ramadan.
“Don’t be in a crowded place for a long period of time, lest you may contract a virus or flu from the crowd and later spread it to your family members,” he said.
At the same time, no restrictions will be imposed on economic activities including the Ramadan bazaars.
The people are also reminded to comply with the existing standard operating procedures (SOP) such as wearing the face masks which are still being enforced at public places.
It is hoped that traders do not exploit the current situation by hiking prices of food sold during Ramadan whilst ensuring quality standards are maintained.