We write this as scholars of Islam, family physicians, pharmacists, medical doctors and public health specialists. The COVID-19 pandemic will impact Malaysia medically, and also in emotional, psychological and spiritual ways.
The holy months of Ramadan and Syawal will soon be upon us. As a nation, Malaysia must soon make very difficult choices. Should we hold Ramadan bazaars, terawih prayers or balik kampung? Can we follow our religious, community or family traditions, or must we change our practices?
As your brothers and sisters, we offer our thoughts to you with humility, respect and sincerity. All of us play multiple roles at the same time: we are Muslims or adherents to other religions; we are health professionals at the frontlines; and we are your fellow Malaysians. We want the best health for you and your families, in physical, emotional, spiritual and religious ways.
We hope that the Movement Control Order (MCO) will end soon, and that everyone will remain healthy. However, if the MCO should be extended for public health reasons, we believe that the spirit of Ramadan can co-exist with the extended MCO, in several ways.
One, Ramadan is a beautiful spiritual experience of reflection, sacrifice and community. Ramadan binds families and the Ummah together and bind us with Allah swt. During this ongoing pandemic, Ramadan is more special because it reminds us of our duty to our fellow human beings.
This is an opportunity to live the spirit of Ramadan by giving to and looking after those who are less fortunate and under difficult circumstances during the MCO.
Two, during this year’s Ramadan and Syawal, we will have to celebrate differently from previous years. It will be difficult for many of our family and friends. That is why we should celebrate the spirit of Ramadan by helping as many as we can, by protecting them and reducing our physical contact with them, especially our elderly.
We may not need bazaars, group prayers or balik kampung to celebrate Ramadan and Syawal this year. Terawih and Maghrib prayers can be at home. We can still celebrate the spirit of Islam, only in different ways. This will be our sacrifice this Ramadan.
Three, Islam and all religions want their adherents to be healthy and to consider the community interest. Ramadan and the MCO can co-exist. We can fulfil our niat and the spirit of Ramadan, only in different, equally beautiful, ways.
We wish Malaysia a beautiful and deeply spiritual Ramadan.
Dr Abdul Halim Shibghatullah
Dr Ahmad Faidhi Mohd Zaini
En Amrahi Buang
Dr Jeffrey Abu Hassan
Dr Khor Swee Kheng
Prof Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim
A/Prof Dr Mohammad Husni Jamal
Dr Mujahid Bakar
Dato’ Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar
Prof Dr Zaleha Abdullah Mahdy
Dr Zarihah Zain