Ramadan is usually a time of togetherness, with Muslims filling mosques for hours of prayer and sharing large, lavish meals with friends and neighbors after days of dawn-to-dusk fasting.
But as Associated Press images show, the coronavirus has forced Muslims around the world — from Indonesia, India and Gaza City to Seattle and South Africa — to alter the way in which they are marking the holiest month on the Islamic calendar.
This year, many are confined to their homes, travel is heavily restricted and public venues including parks, malls and even mosques are shuttered.
Ahmad Kamel, his wife, Nadia Chaouch, and their 2-year-old son Yusuf are staying at home in Seattle. An AP photographer recently captured them in front of a computer in their living room watching the nightly Taraweeh prayer livestreamed from a nearly empty mosque. If it weren’t for COVID-19, they would be at the mosque, then sharing festive, fast-ending meals with friends and neighbors.
Esat Sahin, Imam of the iconic Fatih Mosque, holds a prayer held without public due to the coronavirus restrictions in Istanbul, April 24, 2020, during the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Outside the Imam Ahmed Raza Jaame Masjid mosque in Springs, southwest of Johannesburg, three women waiting to receive Ramadan candies recently sat in socially distanced chairs, the correct spacing marked by painted white lines. South Africa is under a strict five-week lockdown in an effort to fight the pandemic.
In New Delhi, a small, solitary group of Muslims could be seen quietly breaking the fast inside the Jama Masjid, one of India’s largest mosques that in a non-pandemic year would be packed with thousands of devotees.
Men wearing masks practiced social distancing during prayer at the Tahara Mosque in Marseille, France, last week, while a solitary man fired a vintage cannon from behind a stone wall on a hill in Sarajevo, Bosnia, to signal the breaking of the fast shortly after sunset.
Muslim-majority countries began imposing widespread restrictions in mid-March, with many canceling Friday prayers and shuttering holy sites. Saudi Arabia has largely locked down Mecca and Medina and halted the year-round umrah pilgrimage.
Three women wait to receive Ramadan candies at the Imam Ahmed Raza Jaame Masjid mosque in Springs, south west of Johannesburg, April 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, the capital of Jakarta suspended passenger flights and rail services and private cars have been banned from leaving the city.
But while many are weighed down by anxiety about the pandemic, others have decided to cast those fears aside in favor of honoring religious traditions.
In Indonesia’s deeply conservative Aceh province, which is governed by Islamic law under an autonomy agreement, many mosques were packed on Friday after the top clerical body ruled that prayers could continue.
One AP image showed hundreds of men, a few with masks but most without, standing shoulder to shoulder at a mosque in the province, despite warnings from global health officials to avoid large gatherings that could spur a rapid spread of COVID-19.
The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most people, who recover within a few weeks. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness or death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health problems.
A worker from Saylani Welfare Trust gives free food to women for breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan, in Islamabad, Pakistan, April 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Ahmad Kamel lifts his son Yusuf Kamel, 2, as his wife Nadia Chaouch sits next to them as the family watches a livestream of the previous day's Taraweeh prayer from a nearly empty mosque as they wait to break the Ramadan daily fast in their home during the coronavirus outbreak, April 28, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A Muslim family pray after breaking fast at the living room of their house as a food-delivery man rides past in Bangkok, Thailand, April 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A man fires a vintage canon to signal the breaking of fast shortly after sunset in Sarajevo, Bosnia, April 24, 2020, during the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Kemal Softic)
The Jama Masjid, right, main mosque in India's capital and the old city that are usually packed with thousands of devotees during the holy month of Ramadan wore a deserted during a nation wide lockdown in place to check the spread of the new coronavirus, in New Delhi, India, April 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
A Kashmiri Muslim man offers prayer on the banks of Dal Lake on the second day of Ramadan during lockdown to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Sunday, April 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan
Imam Mufti Mohammed Ismail, far right, leader of An-Noor Cultural Center and masjid for a mostly Bangladeshi Muslim community in Elmhurst, N.Y., prays with volunteers as they break from loading boxes of food supplies for those impacted by COVID-19 restrictions April 22, 2020. "I'm receiving so many phone calls from families who are saying, 'we are not poor, but the situation has [made] it so hard, so we need a food box," said Imam Ismail, who has seen increase demands on the center's resources to meet the needs of the faithful during Ramadan. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Muslim men wearing face masks as a precaution against coronavirus men read the holy book of Quran during the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at a mosque in the religiously conservative province of Aceh, Indonesia, April 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Heri Juanda)
A man rides a scooter through an empty square in front of closed the Central Mosque "Heart of Chechnya" in Grozny, Russia, April 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Musa Sadulayev)
Bara Tambedou, center, and his wife Mame Sey, right, break the fast with their family on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Dakar, Senegal, Saturday, April 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Sylvain Cherkaoui)
Muslim worshipers arrive for evening prayers after breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, April 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
A Muslim family pray before breaking fast in the living room of their house in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, April 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Volunteers disinfects the historical Badshahi Mosque ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudhry)
A Muslim wipes his face after performing ablution before prayer on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the deserted Jama Masjid, which is usually packed with thousands of devotees, during a nation wide lockdown in place to check the spread of the new coronavirus, in New Delhi, India, April 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Hajja Dalal, a 46-year-old "mesaharati," or dawn caller, wakes people up for a meal before sunrise, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
A man wearing a mask practices social distancing while praying at the Tahara Mosque during the coronavirus pandemic in Marseille, at a closed door radio broadcast of the Friday prayers to confined worshippers at home, in southern France, April 24, 2020, on the first day of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
Muslim men attend a Friday prayer despite concerns of the new coronavirus outbreak, at a mosque during the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Lhokseumawe, in the religiously conservative province of Aceh, Indonesia, April 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Zik Maulana)
A Palestinian vendor wears a face mask as a protection against the spread of the coronavirus as he sells pickles in the Zawiya market during a Ramadan day in Gaza City, Tuesday, April 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)