SINGAPORE: Muslims in Singapore welcomed the holy month of Ramadan on Thursday (Apr 23) amid what has been described as a "different atmosphere".
Friday will be the first day of fasting, but Muslims here will be largely confined to their homes as the country is in a "circuit breaker" period to break the cycle of COVID-19 transmissions.
"We welcome the arrival of the holy month of Ramadan this year with a different atmosphere. Our country, as well as the rest of the world, is currently fighting the COVID-19 outbreak," said Mufti of Singapore Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, adding that besides fasting, Muslims should also play their part in the fight by staying home.
"This year, Ramadan and Hari Raya will be celebrated together with our family in our own homes. No matter the test, we can accept and overcome it with the permission of Allah SWT, what more with the arrival of Ramadan – a month of challenges, and the culmination of patience, perseverance and hope," he added.
"As we strengthen our faith this Ramadan, may it also spur us to be more determined to fight this virus. This test will eventually pass, and we will overcome this with patience and unity."
In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wished Muslims in Singapore a "blessed and fulfilling" fasting month.
"May this Ramadan be a time of quiet reflection and prayer, together with your immediate families," said Mr Lee.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that the fasting month this year would be "markedly different" due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, which has led to the closure of mosques.
Stricter safe distancing measures have also been introduced.
Initially scheduled to end on May 4, the circuit breaker period has been extended to Jun 1 as the number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore continues to increase.
"There will be no communal terawih prayers because mosques are all closed. Many would also be unable to break fast with their close family and friends, as they usually do," said Mr Lee.
"I hope you understand why the circuit breaker restrictions are being extended, to stamp out new COVID-19 transmissions and protect all of us."