Coronavirus pandemic

Fasting, giving alms key to meaning of Ramadan: Minister

A family having a pre-fasting meal before sunrise on the first day of Ramadan on April 24, 2020.
A family having a pre-fasting meal before sunrise on the first day of Ramadan on April 24, 2020.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri will not be the same this year amid the coronavirus outbreak, but the fundamentals of fasting and giving alms stand true, said Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli.

The most important thing for Muslims during this period is to "observe fasting, as well as give alms to the poor", he added.

These are "fundamental acts of worship in Ramadan", he said.

The holy fasting month of Ramadan began on Thursday evening.

Mr Masagos noted that several online packages had been put together to help the community cope with the changes in this period.

Online donations, online lessons and food delivery to the needy have been put together by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), Malay business chambers and Malay-Muslim organisations like charity Pertapis and the Association of Muslim Professionals, coming together in the spirit of gotong royong, or kampung spirit, he said.

He cited the popular Geylang Serai bazaar which has been cancelled this year, prompting many stallholders to sell their wares online.

Some shop owners have turned to e-commerce sites to try and maintain sales, while others have set up sales platforms and Facebook groups.

"If they are not constrained in the delivery of these goods, we can certainly still participate in some form of bazaar shopping," said Mr Masagos.

 
 
 

Like others in the community, he has had to adapt too, he said.

He will, for example, have to make sure that his mother understands why he cannot visit, and instead offer his greetings virtually.

Mr Masagos said: "Old people have very strong habits, it is hard to change, but I am glad she understands."

He added that everyone will have to adapt to "the new norm" and take the opportunity to pray with their families at home and "build good relationships going forward".

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2020, with the headline 'Fasting, giving alms key to meaning of Ramadan: Minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe