This year, some conditions have eased: mosques in many countries have reopened, and clerical sites such as Saudi Arabia and Indonesia have stressed that coronavirus vaccine shots are allowed during fasting.
But much of the world remains under some form of social restrictions, as new increases, driven by virus variants, continue to require limits on movement and gatherings.
The venerable al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was closed last Ramadan due to the pandemic. This year, it is open to worshipers wearing masks and keeping social distance. Yet Jerusalem is far quieter than previous years without the usual influx of visitors and pilgrims due to border restrictions.
In Israel, Muslims with a “green passport” or proof of vaccination are allowed to gather in larger groups than those without one. However, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where vaccine shots remain limited, there is a curfew from kl. 20 to kl. this prevents joint gatherings to iftar, the meal eaten at sunset to break the fast, and suhoor, the pre-fast meal eaten before sunrise.
In Saudi Arabia a limited number of worshipers who have been vaccinated or recently recovered after covid-19 are allowed to enter the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, the second holiest site in Islam, or the Kabba in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.
Iftar collections in Saudi Arabia this year are also limited to only 20 people.
Pakistan recorded an increase in cases last year, as public health experts said it was partly due to the government allowing mosques to remain open during Ramadan and not enforcing social distance restrictions. This year, cases are rising again and doctors have called on the government to keep mosques closed.
In countries facing economic crises such as Lebanon and Syria, the costs of food, gas and electricity are rising. With basic needs already met, many cannot afford to celebrate this year.