Muslims are spending Ramadan at home in these unprecedented times.
During the holy month, it’s possible to frequent mosques up to five times a day for each prayer – particularly the congregational Taraweeh prayers, which are longer and are performed at night.
But the coronavirus pandemic has halted all forms of worshipping in mosques, churches, gurdwaras and the like, so one Muslim family living in Wales has decided to get creative.
Shaz Miah, his wife, and kids from Newport built their own mosque at home, complete with mosque-inspired decor including a dome and minarets on each side.
And it was all done in a day.
For many Muslims there simply isn’t enough space for the whole family to worship together, but for Shaz, who also lives with his parents, the mini mosque means that the family won’t have to miss out on the unity of praying in congregation.
‘The current lockdown situation will mean Muslims across the UK and the globe do Ramadan very differently,’ Shaz said.
‘There will be no congregational prayers in mosques, there will be no family get-togethers and no socialising with friends, but we have to make the best of what we have.
‘Like thousands of Muslims, we are planning to spend Ramadan as best we can during the lockdown.
‘We have transformed a room in our house into a mini mosque so that we can all pray together in congregation.
‘Building the mosque was great fun, my three children Safwan, Marjan and Mijan, gave their ideas.
‘Having built the mini mosque they now feel more spiritually connected when offering their prayer. I hope this mini mosque has inspired people to do the same because it’s fun and children feel part of the whole process.’
Shaz, who runs an Indian restaurant, thinks the DIY project won’t replicate the atmosphere of a mosque but will give it a similar vibe.
Where the family lives in Newport, there are roughly seven or eight mosques and some of them will transmit the call to prayer – the adhaan – live, meaning households will be able to hear it for the first time.
Shaz reckons Ramadan under lockdown is the perfect opportunity to bond with our nearest and dearest.
He adds: ‘This is a perfect setting and a rare opportunity for families to spiritually connect and spend the month of Ramadan together.
‘I live with mum and dad, my wife, and my three children. We have lived in Newport all of our lives. My dad is normally very active as he would go to the mosque five times a day no matter what, and normally he would go for walks and meet his friends.
‘But now we all have to stay home. We as a family have found ways to spend our time during the lockdown in Ramadan – praying in congregation, having family meals together, reading the Quran, doing some gardening, playing cultural board games such as the Carrom Board, exercising together, playing table tennis, helping with cooking meals and so on.
‘It is important to keep busy spiritually, physically and mentally.’
Shaz wants to help others as much as he can, which is why during lockdown he’s offered free meals from his business, Indian Restaurant Monmouth, to the vulnerable and elderly.
He also wants to raise money for orphans in Bangladesh, where he is originally from.
‘Fasting during Ramadan is supposed to teach Muslims about patience and spiritual things,’ says Shaz.
‘It is a time for Muslims to think about the poor, homeless, and needy.’