Minister’s catchy message as Muslims prepare an unusual Ramadan under lockdown

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri has advised Muslims to stay strong as they observe Ramadan during the pandemic season.

PETALING JAYA: The minister in charge of Islamic affairs has urged Muslims in Malaysia to count their blessings as they prepare to observe the fasting month without the traditional nightly tarawih prayer congregation and the Ramadan bazaar, both banned under the Covid-10 movement control order (MCO).

In a seven-page letter to Muslims interspersed with light-hearted references to the Ramadan nostalgia, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri said they should embrace positivity and gratitude to stay spirited.

“Someone, somewhere, right now is fighting for his or her life. You still have yours, so be thankful and spend it in the obedience of Allah,” Zulkifli said in a special Ramadan message.

“Praise to Allah, we will observe Ramadan in the new normal. Surely it is going to be tough to get used to in the beginning. But I am convinced there is wisdom behind it.”

Muslims worldwide will likely observe the first day of Ramadan tomorrow under the cloud of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed 180,000 lives and locked down cities worldwide.

Islam’s two holy places in Saudi Arabia have also been off-limits to worshippers as part of measures to contain the deadly virus. Ramadan usually sees a spike in those performing the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

Authorities in Malaysia have also shut down mosques nationwide, while Selangor has already announced there would be no Hari Raya prayers with all mosque activities suspended until the end of May.

Zulkifli said frontliners at hospitals nationwide may observe the fasting but are allowed to break fast as they could be overcome with exhaustion.

“It is allowed for them to eat if they are not able to complete their fast or if they feel continuing the fast could make them lose focus and affect their ability to treat patients,” the former federal territories mufti added.

Zulkifli noted that Muslims will miss their favourite buka puasa dishes this Ramadan.

“At the moment, Kak Mah’s sugar cane juice in the Ramadan bazaar at Taman Suria in Jitra, or Pak Ali’s murtabak in Kampung Baru and other Ramadan bazaars nationwide, will not be available.”

He urged Muslims to practise moderation and avoid food wastage during Ramadan, while gifting each other with meals.

“Encik Ali can order Nasi Aeab, present it to Ah Chong. Aunty Tan can order KFC, give it to Puan Wani. Encik Nordin can order Nasi Kerabu, give it to Uncle Muthu.

“Ramadan is the month of charity and of sharing happiness with those around us,” said Zulkifli.