Ramadan in the streets of Jerusalem

Posted on May 8, 2020

[Ramadan 2020 began on Thursday evening, 23rd April, 2020 (according to Saudi Arabia) and will end on Saturday, 23rd May, 2020. Eid al Fitr 2020 is expected to be celebrated on Sunday 24th May, 2020. This is the tentative date as the actual date of commencement of Ramadan 2020 is subject to the sighting of the moon.]

When the sun is still high in the streets of Jerusalem’s Muslim neighborhood, people shop for the evening. Just a stone’s throw from the Damascus Gate you can buy the essentials: vegetables, bread…just a few crescent moons and bright decorations indicate that, despite the Coronavirus, this is a time of celebration.

IZZELDIN NAQSHBAND

“During Ramadan people meet, they meet together in the streets…which then fill up for a month, completely. This year it’s all very different. We have never seen a situation like this, even in the most particular moments and circumstances, during the war…But somehow this brings us back to the essential, it makes us understand that we are all the same…it’s the first time I realize that everywhere in the world people are all in the same situation.”

The merchants, who are allowed to work by the anti-Coronavirus regulations, block the entrance to serve the goods directly on the doorway…slowly they try to restart after the lockdown, but most shops are still closed.

ALI HALAWANI Representative of the Merchants’ Committee

“Without the thousands of faithful who come from all over the world and shop, there is no work. Here in the old town, the situation of those who own a shop is really difficult: they have declared bankruptcy, they have no more money. There are taxes to pay and other expenses…but there are no visitors, the shops are closed. The Al-Aqsa mosque is closed, all the mosques are closed.”

At sunset, the cannon shot from East Jerusalem announces that the daily fast is over. The muezzin sing…but you will not be able to go and pray in the mosque, nor will you be able to gather as per tradition for the Iftar – the evening meal – together with relatives and friends. In the district there is a ban on leaving the house from 6 to 3 in the morning, the Imams themselves have invited the faithful to celebrate the most sacred month of the year for Muslims in the family. It is a sober Ramadan this year.

Izziyad Merchant

“It’s not a feast, it’s not Ramadan! People stay in the house, they don’t come out, they don’t come all the way here and they don’t go anywhere. We haven’t been on the esplanade or in a mosque in two months… we’ve been locked in the house for two months without going out. I’ve recently been able to reopen… hopefully everything will go back to the way it was before.”