How to cope with lockdown restrictions during Ramadan - and when Eid al-Fitr will fall
Like many things this year, the holy month of Ramadan will be observed under more unusual circumstances in 2020, as the UK continues its lockdown.
The period of fasting is the first celebration on the Islamic calendar, coming just ahead of the Eid al-Fitr, and begins on the evening of Thursday 23 April.
Ahead of month of Ramadan, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has issued online guidance to help millions of people across the UK cope with the restrictions they while under lockdown.
Will outdoor worship be allowed?
As the UK lockdown was recently extended for an additional three weeks, until at least 7 May, congregational acts of worship outside of the home will be suspended to stop the spread of the virus.
This includes Taraweeh prayers at the mosque, spiritual talks in the community, or iftars (a ritual meal marking the breaking of the fast after sundown), with friends and family to attend.
Instead, the MCB is offering guidance on how to organise virtual iftars online with loved ones and members of the community via video chat.
It also suggests streaming Islamic lectures or taraweeh to your home, and to organise prayers as a family.
How should I prepare for the fast?
The MCB advises planning your iftar menus in advance so as to avoid making multiple shopping trips, and to eat slow-burning foods that are high in energy during the second meal of the night - the suhoor - which takes place just before dawn.
This will help to maintain energy levels during daylight fasting hours.
It also urges people to hydrate well during the long work days, as dehydration can lead to tiredness, headaches and a lack of concentration.
How should I manage my time around work?
Many Muslims are likely to be working from home during the lockdown, unless they are classed as a key worker, which could pose some new challenges.
The MCB states that you should ensure you take regular breaks from work throughout the day for rest and reflection, perhaps around salaah (prayer) times.
Those who are able to should try to start their day earlier, so they can have some down time prior to iftar.
It recommends giving your employer and colleagues notice that you will be fasting, but you should continue to honour your workplace duties with patience.
Employers may be justified in refusing requests from employees asking to take their lunch breaks at a later time, or to finish work earlier, if this conflicts with legitimate business needs.
However, the MCB says if they are unable to objectively justify such a refusal, this could amount to unlawful indirect discrimination.
What about mosques and prayer facilities?
Mosques have been encouraged to remind their congregations the importance of following social distancing measures, and abiding by government guidance.
While it is not possible for mosques to serve iftar on their premises or as a group, it is possible to use the space to provide boxed food for those who struggle to make ends meet within the community.
Lectures, Qur’an recitations and supplications cannot be done in person, but these can still continue by pre-recording or live-streaming using Skype, Zoom or YouTube.
When does Ramadan end?
Ramadan will begin on the evening of Thursday 23 April 2020, and will end on the evening of Saturday 23 May.
The Islamic calendar is based on the cycle of the moon, meaning the date Ramadan falls on varies from year to year.
Muslims are required to spend a period of 30 days abstaining from food and drink, including water, during daylight hours, as a means of celebrating and reflecting on their faith.
It is one of the five pillars of Islam - the fundamental rules that all Muslims follow - along with the Shahadah (declaration of faith), Salat (prayer), Zakat (charity) and the Hajj pilgrimage.
What happens after Ramadan?
After Ramadan comes to an end, Muslims observe Eid al-Fitr.
This celebration is marked with lights, decorations and gifts, with worshippers often dressing up and decorating their homes.
This year, Eid al-Fitr will begin on the evening of Saturday 23 May and end on the evening of Sunday 24 May.