Restrictions during Ramadan due to the corona pandemic could put Berlin mosque communities in existential straits, according to the state association of Muslims. "During Ramadan, mosque communities normally take in 60 to 70 percent of their annual budget. If that goes away, it puts a mosque in dire financial straits," Mohamad Hajjaj, chairman of the Berlin regional association in the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, told the German Press Agency (dpa).
According to the report, the communities finance themselves through donations. The annual levy from Muslims to their community is usually paid in Ramadan, he said. "But if they don't go to the congregation, they have to choose other payment formats, if they do it at all," Hajjaj said. Overall, he said, revenues are lower as a result. "Last year, the shortfalls could still be compensated, among other things, by corona aid from the state of Berlin. We are very grateful for that. But this year, not much has really happened yet," Hajjaj said.
This Tuesday marks the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan. But this year, the communities are again unable to offer a public breaking of the fast. "Before Corona, there were always about 300 to 400 people breaking fast in mosque communities," reports the state association chairman.
Lenten prayer with distance
This year, he said, Lenten prayer will also be held at a distance. "There may only be fewer than 50 people in the congregations as a rule. Each visitor has six square meters to himself. The point is to keep spacing and hygiene rules," Hajjaj said.
The mosques are not just places of prayer, but also social centers and places of exchange. Especially for people living alone or people from cramped refugee shelters, he said, they are important meeting places. "The social food is missing for people now," Hajjaj said.
According to him, there are about 80 mosque communities in Berlin. There are no official figures on Muslims, he said. According to estimates, however, about 400,000 Muslims live in the city.
Ramadan is of central importance to Muslims worldwide. During this month, which lasts 29 or 30 days, fasting is one of the main duties for believers according to the Koran. Muslims then generally abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until sunset. In addition, they should take special care not to commit any sins.
Photo by Artur Aldyrkhanov