Muslims in the Sultanate have begun marking the holy month of Ramadhan with dawn-to-dusk fasting – one of the pillars in Islam – despite the world still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonetheless, we must count our blessings to be able to welcome Ramadhan. To safeguard ourselves, Imams have advised the Ummah to abide by the health protocols.
Ramadhan provides Muslims with the best opportunity for self-improvement and to draw closer to Allah the Almighty. The fasting month encourages us to improve ourselves, intensify worship, and perform religious deeds such as charity.
It is a loss if one only fasts during the day, but fails to carry out works of piety and other religious activities as the rewards are multiplied during Ramadhan compared to other months.
One should see Ramadhan as the time to be motivated for major changes, such as making progress on an individual or family level; the purification of the heart and soul; doing good work; and refraining from wrongdoings.
Among the recommended acts of worship encouraged during Ramadhan are taking sahur (pre-dawn meal); giving alms and charity; conducting Al-Quran recitation vigils or Tedarus; and providing food for fasting individuals.
It is a time of togetherness as the Ummah perform prayers at mosques, including the highly-encouraged Sunnat Tarawih night-time prayers.
The faithful are also able to intensify their Qiamullail (nightly vigils) as movement restrictions from midnight to 4am have been lifted.
Muslims are advised to deepen their religious knowledge on laws of fasting and etiquettes, including to refrain from forbidden acts to safeguard our sight and hearing, and restrain the tongue from wasteful matters.
During Ramadhan, Muslims are obligated to pay Zakat Fitrah (tithe), which can be made physically or online. Welcoming Ramadhan is a huge blessing for the faithful, a time when the gates of Heaven and blessings are wide open, and every good deed will reap multiple rewards.
Besides spiritual preparations, Muslims are also urged to look after their health, as being healthy allows us to fast and perform other pious acts. One should stay away from consuming anything dubious and haram sources especially during breaking of the fast
The Ummah are also advised to consume food in moderation and keep a balanced diet. Fasting month is also a good time to quit smoking.
Popular open-air bazaars selling food and drinks can be found at various locations, including the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium parking area in Berakas, the car park at Jalan Bendahara in the capital, Tamu Gadong Berpayung, the space at Gerai Tudong Saji, Jalan Setia Diraja Belait, Pasarneka Seria, Jalan Lorong 3 Selatan Seria, the space in front of the Duli Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Hospital in Pekan Tutong and the pedestrian walkway in Pekan Bangar, Temburong District.
Effective April 1, the government has allowed the breaking-of-fast gatherings in restaurants and halls during Ramadhan, with the capacity to serve customers up to 300 people or maximum capacity, depending on the lesser number.