By John Cassim
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AA): Muslims in Zimbabwe have ushered in Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, amid a pandemic that has brought life to a halt in the country and around the world.
For the first time, there will be no congregational prayers in mosques due to a ban imposed as part of the government’s measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Zimbabwe, which has 28 confirmed cases and four deaths so far, imposed a 21-day lockdown at the end of March and then extended it until May 3.
Sheikh Ismail Duwa, head of Zimbabwe’s Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, said all mosques will remain closed to the public and Muslims should pray at home.
“All of this is unprecedented, as was the COVID-19 Muslim Taskforce that we have set up for efforts to counter this scourge,” he said.
“There have been outreach and awareness sessions across the country on the importance of staying indoors, praying at home, and maintaining personal hygiene. We will also provide food to members of the community who have lost their jobs due to the lockdown.”
The special team will aim to facilitate Zimbabwe’s almost 1.2 million Muslims in matters including food, sanitation and health, and funerals during the pandemic.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa also prayed for peace and health in his Ramadan greetings to the Muslim community.
“Wishing all of our Muslim friends, both in Zimbabwe and around the world, a blessed Ramadan. While this month of Ramadan will be different from previous years, may you and your families enjoy peace, health and happiness,” he said.
Mosques are located in nearly all of the larger towns (including 18 mosques in the capital city of Harare, 8 mosques in Bulawayo) and a number of mosques in rural areas.
[Map of Zimbabwe By United States Central Intelligence Agency/Public Domain]