Ramadan 2021: Muslims follow Covid rules as they pray at Mecca shrines once packed with TWO MILLION worshippers

SOCIALLY-DISTANCED worshippers have been allowed to pray at Mecca shrines which were once packed with TWO MILLION Muslims before the pandemic.

Last year the Great Mosque of Mecca was empty – as Muslims were forced to celebrate Ramadan in isolation at the very start of the pandemic.

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This year, people have been allowed to take part in communal prayer in front of the Kaaba – the holiest site in Islam – with marks on the ground of the courtyard to ensure social distancing.

The holy month of Ramadan is considered a time of spiritual reflection, fasting and prayers.

Each year, Muslims across the globe abstain from eating or drinking between dawn and sundown during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

The first day of Ramadan begins today: Tuesday, April 13, 2021.

Fasting will begin at sunrise after suhur and then finish at sunset with iftar.

Last year families were unable to gather to eat together, or go to mosques to pray – but now activities will be adapted to the new restrictions.

Across the world, worshipping will be done differently, in line with different countries restrictions.

In Indonesia cases are spiking but the government has loosened restrictions and mosques were allowed to open for Ramadan prayers.

In Malaysia restrictions have also eased, including last year's ban on 'taraweeh' nighttime prayers.

Last year, clerics issued a fatwa urging Muslims to pray at home rather than in crowded spaces.

Nasaruddin Umar, imam of Jakarta's Istiqlal grand mosque told MailOnline: “I miss everything of Ramadan already. 

“The heart of faithful Muslims is tied to the mosque… the longing for Ramadan lovers has finally been relieved today although the pandemic has not yet ended.”

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan marks the month when the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad by Allah.

The holy month will see Muslims around the world fasting during daylight hours for 30 days.

All Muslims who have reached puberty are expected to fast during Ramadan, although there are some exceptions.

Women who are menstruating or pregnant and those suffering from illness do not have to fast.

The rules mean food and drink, including water, are not allowed during daylight hours for the entire month.

The Islamic calendar is based around the lunar cycle, the holy month of Ramadan rotates by approximately ten days each year.

The month is confirmed with the sighting of the new moon.

Muslims then celebrate with a massive 24-hour party involving family and friends called the feast of Eid al-Fitr.

This celebration is marked with lights, decorations and gifts, with worshippers often dressing up and decorating their homes.

A resident in Jakarta said: “Easing restrictions is like a breath of fresh air for us who are tired by this COVID-19 outbreak.

“Yes, they should act to stop the virus, but not block the door to worship or to change our tradition of Ramadan entirely.”

Vaccines will still be administered throughout Ramadan despite the Islamic teaching that Muslims should refrain 'from anything entering the body' between sunrise and sunset.

Indonesia's top Muslim clerical body has said Muslims eligible for the jab are “required” to get them during Ramadan.

The head of fatwas for the Indonesian Ulema Council, Asrorun Niam Sholeh, has said that the vaccine enters muscle rather than the bloodstream and is not nutrition, so it does not break fasting.

Sholeh said: “If we carry on taking our vaccines, we can ensure that next Ramadan we do return to some normality.”

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