ROME: Imams in Italy are looking for new tools online with which to involve the country’s nearly 3 million Muslims in celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, which begins this week amid a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Italy, where Muslims constitute almost 5 percent of the population, the country’s nearly 1,100 mosques have been closed since early March, as have all other places of worship.
They will remain so at least until May 4, in compliance with the government’s measures to stop the spread of the virus.
As Ramadan approaches, families and communities are “forced to give up meeting in Islamic centers and mosques in the evening to recite the Qur’an together as support for daytime fasting,” Yahya Pallavicini, imam at Al-Wahid Mosque in Milan, told Arab News.
It will be a Ramadan spent in isolation, with massive use of internet streaming. Izzedin Elzir, an imam in Florence and former president of the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy, told Arab News: “The Friday prayer sermon during Ramadan will be streamed on Facebook in order to reach directly all the faithful in their homes. Also, lectures and moments of collective reflection will be broadcast online.”
During this unprecedented time of hardship, celebrating Ramadan will be a “challenge that we must transform into an opportunity to rediscover family relationships and to reflect,” he added.
“Staying at home doesn’t mean doing nothing. It’s a time to examine our life and the relationship we have with God and with our neighbors.”
Amar Abdallah, an imam in Naples, told Arab News that he has “used the internet and social media in order to warn the Muslim faithful that in this moment it’s an essential duty to stay at home and comply with the state rules and limitations.”
He added: “It will be a Ramadan that we aren’t used to. The current situation in Italy and in the rest of the world requires us to stay at home, and we’ll observe the rules.”
Palestinian-born Izzedin Elzir, a Muslim community leader in Tuscany, said members have been very engaged in supporting the lockdown and all relevant measures to stop the virus from spreading.
“We invite everyone to wash their hands more than is normally necessary, and to observe the Italian health regulations,” he added. “Allah asks man to respect Him. But He also asks to safeguard human life.”
The National Association of Italian Muslims (ANMI) is urging the faithful to perform the adhan (call to prayer) on the balconies of their homes on Friday at 6 p.m.
“We should do it all together all over Italy to make the call to prayer as a wish that the holy month of Islam will bring a new life and a solution for everything. We do it before the iftar, the breaking of the fast, as a symbolic time for all of Italy,” ANMI said in a statement.
“This way we all will show our closeness to the people of Italy with a gesture of prayer and a request for help from God the Most High.”