The Mufti of Rwanda, Sheikh Saleh Hitimana, has said that in a bid to continue fighting the spread of COVID-19, Muslims will this year conduct the Eid ul Fitri prayers to mark the end of Ramadan in the confines of their homes.
Hitimana told The New Times that the Rwanda Muslim Community decided that while these celebrations are normally an opportunity for large groups of Muslims to come together, this year's celebrations would be done differently to protect both Muslims and the communities they live in.
"Eid-ul Fitri is normally a day of feasting. People invite one another, share food, and generally celebrate. However, this year, we will have to stay in our homes so that we can respect the guidelines that the government has put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic", he said.
After prayers, which will be conducted in homes, the Hitimana will deliver a special prayer that will be broadcasted on the national radio and television.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar that obliges healthy adult Muslims to abstain from food and drink from dawn until dusk.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is believed that the Holy Scripture, the Quran, was given to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad during this time.
Islam, which literally means "to submit to God", is based on 'five pillars' to which all members must adhere. The first one is the Profession of Faith that states, "There is only one God and Muhammad is his prophet".
The other pillars include praying five times a day, sharing their wealth with those less fortunate, fasting during Ramadan and making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
During the Holy Month, it is common for mosques to host large gatherings to break the fast, especially for the poor and needy. Nightly prayers called Tarawih are also held in mosques after Iftar.
Who fasts and who doesn't?
All Muslims who have reached puberty and other adults in good physical and mental health are expected to fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
However, children, the elderly, the disabled, the sick, menstruating, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people traveling, athletes during tournaments are exempted.
With the exception of children, these people are expected to fast at a later stage whenever their circumstances improve.
Why does the date vary each year?
The Islamic calendar is lunar, meaning each month begins with the new astronomical moon.
As lunar months are shorter than solar, the Islamic calendar does not correspond with the Gregorian calendar followed in the West which means that Ramadan occurs around 11 days earlier every year.
An estimated 1.6 Muslims participate in the holy month of Ramadan every year.