LONDON: Two British charities have collaborated to deliver a series of educational and spiritual workshops throughout Ramadan that will provide Muslims relief from the mental health strain of spending a second straight holy month under tight coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.
Mental health charity Supporting Humanity has partnered with Islamic education platform Teach Me Islam to deliver the online sessions.
The two charities will provide Islamic talks, children’s stories, interactive baking for Iftar, along with health and fitness sessions for free, three times a week throughout the month.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day and normally gather after the sunset to share in food and worship with their friends, family and the wider community.
This Ramadan is the second straight that the UK’s 3.3 million Muslims have spent adhering to strict curbs on social gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While last year’s curbs saw a total ban on social interaction as the virus swept across the country, this year sees looser restrictions for worshippers. Though the amount of social interaction still falls far short of what Muslims would normally expect from the holiest month on the Islamic calendar.
Nabeela Raza, the CEO of Teach Me Islam, told Arab News that her charity learned from the first Ramadan lockdown just how important it is for people to remain socially engaged and connected during the holy month, even if it has to be online.
“Last year was the hardest Ramadan that the Muslim community has gone through,” Raza said. “A year on, some restrictions still in place are not allowing us to enjoy the company of friends and family, break fast together, and do the things we would usually do.”
Raza explained that during the lockdown, and particularly during Ramadan, people need Teach Me Islam’s services more than usual.
With online educational services, she said, people were able to “still feel like they had humane interaction or have the personal tutor that gives them the right advice. But it also makes it feel like they are not alone.”
In hard times, Raza added, religious education can “provide us with the coping mechanisms and tools we need to make it through.”
Supporting Humanity is a London-based mental health charity that has been providing bereavement counseling to many families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.
In a statement to Arab News, Idris Patel, the CEO of Supporting Humanity, said: “Ramadan is a time for Muslims to spiritually connect as well as remember the less fortunate and give to charity, but it is also a time where families get together.
“The pandemic will make this very difficult this year for many Muslims, and we, as a mental health charity, want people to feel that there is something for the community to log into and be part of and not feel isolated.”
The online sessions provided by the charities are free and will run throughout the whole month.