Indian Muslims to mark Ramadan amid COVID-19 lockdown
Ulema ask Muslims to offer prayers at home, avoid iftar gatherings
Ramadan is due to start in the country on April 25 or 26 depending on the sighting of Moon.
Muslims make up about 14% of the country's 1.3 billion population.
So far, cases from the novel virus have risen to over 23,500 and the death toll has mounted to 722, according to the US-based Johns Hopkins University.
Adhering to government directives, Muslim scholars have advised the community to offer prayers at home and avoid large iftar (fast-breaking meal) gatherings. During the month, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.
Mosques nationwide are making announcements asking people to follow lockdown rules.
Maulana Ateeque Ahmed Bastawi, a famous scholar, said this is the first time he will not perform the special Taraweeh -- special night prayers performed during the holy month -- in the mosque.
Uzair Kazi, a resident of Delhi, said they will spend time at home praying for this pandemic to end.
"The present situation has forced us to pray at home. We shall try to reach out to the poor during this month,” he told Anadolu Agency.
- Muslims under attack
A large number of Muslims believe the government and media is scapegoating them for spreading the virus after many people who attended a recent Tablighi Jamaat religious gathering in Delhi tested positive.
Following reports of a rise in hate crime against Muslims, the government issued a statement saying the community should not be targeted.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the virus affects everyone equally. "COVID-19 does not see race, religion, color, caste, creed, language or border before striking," he said in a post on LinkedIn.
The country is under lockdown until May 3.