04/28/2020, 16.27
SRI LANKA
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Ramadan is a time to strengthen interfaith dialogue in Sri Lanka

by Melani Manel Perera

Muslim leaders call for a joint effort to combat coronavirus. At this time, "generosity must guide people”. Cases are on the rise on the island nation. Restrictions have been imposed for the holy month. Unemployment and the loss of remittances from abroad have hit Sri Lankans hard.

 

Colombo (AsiaNews) – For Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, Ramadan, the sacred month that Islam dedicates to fasting and prayer, must be a time to strengthen dialogue and understanding between the different faiths.

“While the country and the whole world are grappling with the pandemic, generosity must guide people," said Sheikh Abdulla Abdul Rahman, an activist and a member of the Negombo Program for Interreligious Dialogue, speaking to AsiaNews.

Sri Lankan authorities have reported so far 567 cases of the coronavirus with seven deaths. The main cluster of infections is the naval base in Welisara, near Colombo, with 180 cases among officers and sailors. All 4,000 people living in the facility are in quarantine.

After a surge in cases, particularly in the densely populated area of ​​the capital, the government extended social confinement and economic lockdown until at least 3 May.

Muslim religious authorities have called on all the faithful to respect the ban and not to meet in public during Ramadan. People will have to pray at home rather than at their local mosque.

As Muslim places of worship are open only for imams and muezzins, it will not be possible to offer food or meals for iftar to break the fast after sunset.

For Sheikh Rahman, much can be learned from this crisis situation. For him, “Those who suffer, regardless of their religious beliefs, must be helped.”

With this in mind, “Ramadan allows us to understand in what conditions the poor live; fasting is a tool that brings us closer to those who suffer from hunger every day.”

Citing the Prophet Muhammad, he explained that no one can truly be said to believe if they have a full belly whilst their neighbour is starving.

Unemployment and the loss of remittances from family members abroad have hit Sri Lankans hard. The pandemic has also badly affected Sri Lanka’s US-billion garment industry, the driving force of its economy and main exporter.

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