This year, millions of Filipino Muslims are going to observe Ramadan differently.
Sheikh Abu Huraira Udasan, a grand mufti and the head of Darul Ifta, the highest Islamic religious authority in the country, declared April 24 as the official start of Ramadan based on the new moon.
During Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sun up to sun down and aim for restraint in thought, words and deeds.
With the pandemic showing no signs of subsidization, it is highly risky for Muslims mostly in Mindanao to engage in various communal traditions that make the Islamic Holy Month the largest and longest religious festival.
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos has already released a memorandum order suspending temporarily this year the Taraweeh or community prayers for Ramadan in prayer rooms and mosques in the whole country.
Muslims around the world also began to celebrate Ramadan under the coronavirus lockdown with unprecedented bans on family gatherings and mass prayers.
The threat of large-scale religious gatherings has been highlighted in recent weeks by waves of infections in Asia linked to separate, massive Islamic congregations in Malaysia, Pakistan and India.
And the World Health Organization has called for a halt to certain activities in Ramadan aimed at limiting exposure.
But in Bangladesh, clerics have pushed back attempts to reduce the number of people going to mosques.
And Pakistan saw its mosques crammed in the lead up to Ramadan, with the faithful sitting shoulder to shoulder, paying little attention to social distancing.
As of April 27, there have been 7,777 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. Of that number, 932 have recovered and 511 have died.
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