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Back to a more familiar Ramadan for Muslims

Muslims in Singapore are observing their second Ramadan in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But some essential activities such as terawih prayers and porridge distribution returned this year, restoring some familiarity to how the fasting month was marked prior to the pandemic.

Last year, mosques were closed during Ramadan because of the circuit breaker.

Since they re-opened last June, mosques here have been taking extra measures like disinfecting their compounds in between congregational prayers and ensuring that worshippers have a valid booking to facilitate contact tracing.

These practices continued throughout the fasting month this year.

One volunteer helping to facilitate safe prayers is 16-year-old Serangoon Gardens Secondary School student Muhammad Syafiq Mohd Sukairi, who has been active at Al-Muttaqin Mosque in Ang Mo Kio, helping out with terawih preparations.

He said: “I help out at the mosque about three to four times a week during Ramadan.

“I balance it between volunteering and my school work.”

Syafiq helps in sanitising the prayer halls before and after congregational prayers, preparing light refreshments for worshippers breaking their fast and serves as an usher for up to 250 of the faithful performing terawih prayers each night.

This was before the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) announced a reduction in the number of worshippers allowed in mosques for each congregational prayer session since last Saturday, from 250 to 100.

Customary porridge distribution has also returned at mosques and some community centres.

Outside Ghufran Mosque in Tampines on April 24, there was a queue at the site for porridge distribution which starts at 5pm. Volunteers and staff of the mosque were present to enforce social distancing.

The mosque distributes 500 packets of porridge each weekday, with an additional 100 each day on weekends.

As part of the effort to reach out to more people, Ghufran Mosque distributes almost half of its daily porridge portion at Our Tampines Hub, which is next to the mosque.

Muslim migrant workers living in dormitories have also been able to organise their own terawih prayers.

When The Straits Times visited Westlite Kranji Quick Build Dormitory on April 29, several residents were mopping an open court after heavy rain to prepare for their terawih.

About 600 Muslims reside at Westlite Kranji, but only 40 people can perform prayers at a time because of space constraints.

At Westlite Kranji, Mr Md Foridshek, 36, is one of two appointed prayer leads (imams) approved by Muis. In Bangladesh, he has led up to 150 worshippers in prayer.

“I feel very honoured that my friends in this dorm trust me to lead them,” he said.

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