Islam asks Muslims not only to fast during Ramadan, but also to aid those in need. Ramadan generosity will be especially important during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rabat – Ramadan is the annual holy month during which Muslims around the world not only fast from sunrise to sunset, but also show solidarity and do generous deeds for others.
The religious celebration is an opportunity for Muslims to attain spiritual purification through fasting and charity work. Muslims abstain from not only food, drink, and sex, but also from lying, cheating, gossiping, swearing, and other bad behaviors. Muslims also engage in prayers to varying extents, according to each individual’s capability.
Islam encourages adherents to maintain positive Ramadan habits throughout the year.
The prophet Muhammad recommended loving, sharing, and caring for others. “Wish for your brother what you would wish for yourself,” he said in a famous hadith.
Islam considers charity to be valuable work that enables Muslims to empathize with the suffering of others. This spiritual work requires reflection and a show of compassion.
The Quran instructs capable individuals to give part of their wealth and food to others. “Spend out of that in which He has made you successors. For those who have believed among you and spent, there will be a great reward,” reads the seventh verse of chapter 57.
Muslims give through the principle of Zakat al-Fitra during Ramadan, a charitable contribution that worshippers who have an excess of food must make before the end of the holy month so that those in need can eat during the Eid celebration. Flour or other food staples are sometimes offered in lieu of money.
In some ways, this year’s Ramadan is more important than those before the coronavirus lockdown because of increased need. At the same time, distributing donations will be a challenge. The wealthy can engage with NGOs to help strategically support the poor with necessary supplies amid movement restrictions.
COVID-19 will challenge charitable giving
Charity NGOs work to spread happiness and reinforce spiritual beliefs as recommended by Islam, and many seize Ramadan as an opportunity to increase charitable activities. Such organizations provide food, clothing, and other goods for individuals who are struggling and poor families. This type of charity will be especially important this year, as the holy month falls during the coronavirus pandemic.
Marginalized individuals and families may be poised to suffer more than usual during 2020’s Ramadan. Since the outbreak of the virus, people around the world, including in Morocco, are suffering the economic impact of a lockdown. Many have stopped working and the homeless are suffering more as shops, restaurants, and mosques have closed their doors.
Nearly 200 million full-time workers could lose their jobs during the current crisis, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
In a time of increased need, generosity is more valuable than ever, but the coronavirus pandemic has obliged many countries to declare a state of emergency. Lockdown measures such as social distancing will complicate giving during this year’s Ramadan. Many NGOs are therefore adapting their standard practices to meet needs in feeding and supporting the poor during Ramadan amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Open Iftar is a UK organization that arranges gatherings every year during Ramadan to feed the hungry in communal gatherings after sunset. This year, rather than setting up tents for communal meals, the NGO will deliver meals directly to families and individuals.
NGOs in Morocco will adapt to help the needy during Ramadan 2020
Moroccan organizations also plan to adapt their programs in light of the pandemic circumstances.
Several Moroccan NGOs engage in delivering meals for poor individuals and those living in the streets throughout the year, but increase their efforts during Ramadan. This year, organizations such as Lueur d’Espoir (Glimmer of Hope) Casablanca will have to adjust their activities to aid those in need while respecting COVID-19 preventive measures.
Lueur d’Espoir Casablanca helps the poor with money, food, or clothes. The organization also organizes medical caravans and distributes school materials in Casablanca and in rural areas. The Moroccan NGO engages youth volunteers to distribute food among needy people.
This year, Lueur d’Espoir plans to provide extra support to 100 poor families impacted by COVID-19. “Our organization is collecting donations to cover the families’ basic needs during Ramadan,” president of Lueur d’Espoir, Sabrine Zahroubane, told Morocco World News. The organization has collaborated with Cash Plus Bank to transfer incoming donations to a specific charitable account. Donors will be able to contribute without paying bank fees.
“We are aiming to financially support needy families during Ramadan and the coronavirus crisis,” said Zahroubane. “Fifteen families have already received MAD 300 to MAD 500 [$30 to $50] to buy basic needs.”
ZeroHunger also works to feed struggling people in various Moroccan cities, including Casablanca and Rabat. The NGO distributes extra meals and food packages in the streets during the holy month. ZeroHunger volunteers collect meals from permanent donors such as restaurants, fast food hubs, and pastry shops. Just like Lueur d’Espoir, the organization will have to adjust operations during a Ramadan like no other.
Solidarity and charity initiatives will help support the needy and promote unity amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Exceptional times demand exceptional solidarity,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in an April 17 tweet. This year’s Ramadan will present an opportunity to express just that.