During the holy month of Ramadan, night time, for most Muslims, is an opportunity to go out meet family, friends and for communal prayer. This year the celebrations are more muted.

This year Ramadan for most Muslims will be unlike any they have experienced before.

Hundreds of millions of Muslims began a month of no food or drink from dawn to dusk.

Precautions against the coronavirus will mean large public gatherings celebrating Ramadan are off the menu. For millions around the world, the breaking of the fast is a communal event which this year will be limited to the closest of family relations.

An aerial view of deserted Grand Mosque on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia April 24, 2020.
An aerial view of deserted Grand Mosque on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia April 24, 2020. (Reuters)

The coronavirus has impacted some of Islam’s holiest sites. 

Jerusalem’s al Aqsa Mosque is closed to all but those looking after the site. Similarly, the grand mosques of Mecca and Medina, which would normally be heaving with thousands of worshippers, have fallen silent.

Palestinian worshippers perform the Taraweeh prayer in Jerusalem.
Palestinian worshippers perform the Taraweeh prayer in Jerusalem. (AA)

Palestinian worshippers perform the Taraweeh prayer in front of the Bab Al Asbat Gate outside the closed-down Masjid al Aqsa compound during the holy month of Ramadan in Old Town in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem on April 26, 2020. 

Worshippers in Jerusalem are paying attention to social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The month of Ramadan is a period of intense spirituality, self-control and an opportunity to reconnect with God. The Muslim faithful, following their evening meal, will engage in special nighttime prayers known as taraweeh.

Mosques around the world have either been closed or attendance has been restricted in a bid to stop the spread of the deadly pandemic. Closures are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future in the interests of public safety.

A Palestinian boy waves a homemade sparkler firework as he celebrates ahead of the holy fasting month, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the southern Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian boy waves a homemade sparkler firework as he celebrates ahead of the holy fasting month, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)
Palestinian family break their fast during iftar dinner of Ramadan in Gaza City, Gaza on April 26, 2020.
Palestinian family break their fast during iftar dinner of Ramadan in Gaza City, Gaza on April 26, 2020. (AA)

Palestinian Hamude Abu Amre and his family, who lost their homes to Israeli attacks, break their fast together. 

Anti-govt protesters gather for iftar dinner in Baghdad, Iraq on April 26, 2020.
Anti-govt protesters gather for iftar dinner in Baghdad, Iraq on April 26, 2020. (AA)

Not everyone is observing social distancing during this Ramadan.

Protesters in Baghdad are breaking their fast during iftar inTahrir Square in Baghdad. 

Starting on 1 October 2019, Iraqi citizens have continued to march in the streets to express their anger at endemic corruption, high unemployment and foreign interference. 

People release sky lanterns as they celebrate the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Sidon, Lebanon, on April 23, 2020.
People release sky lanterns as they celebrate the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Sidon, Lebanon, on April 23, 2020. (AFP)

With much of Lebanon still under lockdown as the country aims to stem the spread of the coronavirus, people marked the beginning of Ramadan this year by releasing sky lanterns. 

Two drummers wearing masks tour the streets of Zeytinburnu, in Istanbul, Turkey, April 24, 2020.
Two drummers wearing masks tour the streets of Zeytinburnu, in Istanbul, Turkey, April 24, 2020. (AA)

In Istanbul, an age old tradition during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan continues with some restrictions. 

Known as the the Ramadan drummers, they wander the streets to wake up residents for "sahoor" — the last meal before a day of fasting that begins before sunrise. 

This year, however, they are not allowed to take donations from grateful residents as part of the announced coronavirus restrictions.

Palestinian Musharatis call for Muslims to wake up to have the pre-dawn meal before they start their fast in Rafah, Palestine, on April 24, 2020.
Palestinian Musharatis call for Muslims to wake up to have the pre-dawn meal before they start their fast in Rafah, Palestine, on April 24, 2020. (Reuters)

The Ramadan drummers are spread from the Middle East to the Balkans as part of the regions remaining Ottoman traditions.

Amid a national lockdown, a cannon overlooking Sarajevo's Old Town is fired on at sunset to mark the beginning of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Amid a national lockdown, a cannon overlooking Sarajevo's Old Town is fired on at sunset to mark the beginning of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in Bosnia-Herzegovina. (AFP)

In the Balkans, the breaking of the fast at sunset and the announcement of the beginning of Ramadan is made with a canon being fired. 

Caretakers of the Jama Masjid mosque perform evening prayer on the first day of Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan during a nationwide lockdown to slow the spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Delhi, India on April 25, 2020.
Caretakers of the Jama Masjid mosque perform evening prayer on the first day of Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan during a nationwide lockdown to slow the spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Delhi, India on April 25, 2020. (AA)

The past year has been a difficult one for Muslims in India. 

Racism and anti-Muslim violence has been on the increase due to the Hindu-nationalist policies followed by the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. 

The spread of the coronavirus has even been linked to Muslims in the country by a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation with close links to Modi.

A strict lockdown continues to remain in place across the contested Kashmir valley after Modi extended the lockdown across the country until 3 May.

People pray before receiving free food for breaking their fast on the second day of Ramadan, in Islamabad, Pakistan. Sunday, April 26, 2020. Millions have started the Muslim fasting month Ramadan, the holiest month on the Islamic calendar, under the coronavirus lockdown or strict social restrictions.
People pray before receiving free food for breaking their fast on the second day of Ramadan, in Islamabad, Pakistan. Sunday, April 26, 2020. Millions have started the Muslim fasting month Ramadan, the holiest month on the Islamic calendar, under the coronavirus lockdown or strict social restrictions. (AP)

Pakistan has been one of the only Muslim countries where mosques have largely stayed open and worshippers have defied government attempts to limit the size of the congregations

The government released a series of rules including that worshippers should maintain social distance between themselves, bring their own prayer mats and perform ablution at home.

A French muslim family have the traditional Iftar meal, the meal after sunset during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in Paris, on April 24, 2020, as the country is under lockdown to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus.
A French muslim family have the traditional Iftar meal, the meal after sunset during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in Paris, on April 24, 2020, as the country is under lockdown to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. (AFP)

France has been one of the hardest hit countries in Europe from the coronavirus with more than 160,000 infection and almost 23,000 thousands deaths. 

The lockdown has also exposed inequality amongst the countries minority communities

Sudanese people break their fast during the first iftar dinner of Ramadan in Khartoum, Sudan on April 25, 2020.
Sudanese people break their fast during the first iftar dinner of Ramadan in Khartoum, Sudan on April 25, 2020. (AA)
Source: TRT World