Religion, faith or belief
Together with other public bodies across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, we are working closely with faith groups and organisations to do what they can to limit the spread of coronavirus and support our local communities.
The challenges and opportunities presented to us across faith communities, groups and organisations at the current time are quite different; in part because each one has its own distinct demographic identity in the make-up of its communities.
We are taking national guidance and working with faith communities, groups and organisations as we act to make the best response locally.
This page includes information and advice on a range of topics, featuring links to Government guidance where appropriate as well as good practice collected locally and from other parts of the country (indeed, from around the world).
Continued restrictions on our activities and the need for social distancing will affect how we can observe the many special occasions in faith calendars.
Each of the communities affected has responded in their own ways to the necessary restrictions. All continue to make changes to how they will mark festivals, celebrations, commemorations and other special occasions.
The strict infection control measures required during the coronavirus pandemic also limit close contact with people who are dying or have recently died. Where restrictions on visitors continue, it may not be possible for faith representatives to perform some or all of the usual rituals.
There may also be issues with allowing family members at the bedside, particularly if, for example, they are having to self-isolate, they are in the high-risk vulnerable group, or they are unable to acquire the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).
The holy Islamic month of Ramadan began towards the end of April this year, and as usual was subject to the sighting of the new moon. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar and is regarded as the holiest month in Islam. The Quran (the Islamic holy book) was revealed to the prophet Muhammad in Ramadan and therefore Muslims strive to read the entire Quran at least once during this time.
On a personal level, Ramadan is considered as a catalyst for change: a time to reflect on one’s personal shortcomings and improve on them, an opportunity to break away from bad and harmful habits. It is also a time to focus upon doing good deeds. Muslims dedicate much of their time to prayers and increase their participation in other acts of worship.
Fasting is common across most religions and is one of the five pillars of Islam. All adolescent and older Muslims who are fit and healthy are required to fast during Ramadan. They have to abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.
Restrictions to public movement and social gatherings, and closures of places of worship place a unique burden on Muslim communities at the current time.
Ramadan in 2020 is very different because of the coronavirus outbreak. Globally, everyday life and routines have changed drastically and inevitably, so has Ramadan. In the UK and across the world, mosques have closed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Instead people are observing prayers in their own homes.
There is likely to be an increase in anxiety among the Muslim community due to not being able to celebrate the holy period in the traditional way. There may be an increase in activity within Muslim households as families adapt and try alternative methods to celebrate Ramadan. This will be particularly notable before dawn at approximately 3am, and when fasting ends around 8.10pm.
Many of the planned activities to celebrate Ramadan have been either suspended or cancelled, which is particularly challenging as many members of the Muslim community see Ramadan as an opportunity for the community to unite and bring about togetherness. For the elderly and vulnerable, it is usually an opportunity to meet others and make new friends.
Places of worship remain closed and will not reopen until July at the earliest. This obviously presents some challenges for our communities and groups across Leicester. The government has now established a taskforce to develop a plan to reopen places of worship in a phased and safe manner. Information about that can be found at GOV.UK.
This continued closure, together with the restrictions on gatherings and the need to maintain social distancing, means that worship and some of the religious rituals and practices so important to our beliefs are not now possible.
We’ll add further information about changes to worship, rituals and practices soon.