This year, the holy month of Ramadan took place between 23rd April to 23rd May and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community, it also happened to fall during the period of unprecedented global lockdown. Traditionally, families and friends would come together to break Iftar (their fast) and worshippers would congregate at their local mosque in the evening. However, as a result of the pandemic, religious traditions and practices have been significantly impacted and a ‘new normal’ introduced.
Nevertheless, aged old traditions have been preserved and continued with the help of social media and video conferencing sites such as Skype, Zoom and FaceTime.
To appreciate how Ramadan 2020 has been observed during these extraordinary times, we invited Canon Ambassador and two-time Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Muhammed Muheisen and Dubai-based photographer and filmmaker Reem Falaknaz to document their experience during lockdown, through the power of photography. A selection of intimate images taken by both photographers provide a unique look into how lockdown shaped their Ramadan like no other.
From re-connecting with the beauty of their surroundings, to showing how friends and families came together in prayer and virtual iftars. Muhammed and Reem have documented the simple pleasures they experienced during this sacred period of reflection.
Canon Ambassador and two-time Pulitzer prize winning photographer Muhammed Muheisen
During Ramadan, Muhammed took a deeper look at his immediate surroundings where everything was quiet and things moved slowly. Due to almost everything being closed, Muhammed decided to break his fast next to a field near his home, as the sun set he had his picnic style Iftar with watermelon, humous, pickles and olives. Muhammed commented “The month of Ramadan is all about the total devotion to God, empathising with the poor and the less fortunate, kindness and getting rid of bad habits and also, it is a month of family gatherings, sharing with the community.”
Muhammed continues, “Since the lockdown began in Greece, I have been walking around my neighbourhood, discovering the beauty surrounding me. It's the thing that keeps me positive and it's something I didn’t have the chance to do before, as I am always on the go with my camera. During this Ramadan, I am taking a deeper look at my immediate surroundings, where everything is quiet and things move slowly. This hill just behind my home in the suburbs of Athens has become a regular destination on my neighbourhood walks.”
Dubai based photographer Reem Falaknaz
For Reem and her family, this year’s Ramadan has been a very different experience. Reem lives with her mother and household helper Zainab, and next door to them is her brother who lives with his wife and two children. During Ramadan, her whole family normally gathers at the matriarchal house, her grandma’s, for Iftar every day. Reem’s uncles, aunts, their wives and husbands, children and their household helpers break the fast under one roof and on a full attendance day there are almost 30 members. However, due to the pandemic this is the first Ramadan Reem and her mother have spent in their home away from the family.
Reem’s mother is a hafiza (preserver) and she has memorised the Quran and she spends most of her day revising the words and their meaning. Normally, she would attend a weekly class, however due to the health crisis these classes stopped so she discusses their meaning with friends via WhatsApp.
Despite the exceptional circumstances faced this year, Mohammad and Reem have captured the real beauty of Ramadan and we are grateful to be able to share their experience and images with you. Ramadan Mubarak.