The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped the entire world and, although it seems like the pandemic is over, health experts warn that taking it easy is a choice that may prove fatal. Even back in May, Pakistan forbid Youm-e-Ali processions out of fears that it might exacerbate the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, therefore, although there will undoubtedly be those who shun protective measures as they did with the Youm-e-Ali processions, many groups across both Pakistan and the world have taken steps to ensure a safe Muharram.
For instance, many members of the Shia community have opted to partake in online Majalis in order to limit coronavirus transmission. Religious scholars unable to visit Karbala this year due to travel restrictions have reportedly decided to use online forums instead to remind other Muslims of the tragedy that befell Imam Hussain. Some decided to even deliver their sermons on online video platforms.
Even Karbala itself is going to be different this year. As the worst-hit country by the coronavirus in the Middle-East, Irani authorities have urged citizens to consider skipping real-life pilgrimages and stay at home this year, but, as would be expected, many have gathered either way. Nonetheless, Iranian authorities are taking an active effort to encourage social distancing, encouraging the widespread and repeated usage of disinfectant and using visual symbols to encourage worshipers to maintain physical distance between them.
It is impossible to imagine a world where Muharram processions don’t occur, given the passion and fervor exhibited by the Islamic community. However, it is very encouraging to see that, although there are some who shirk social distancing measures, many of those individuals partaking in Muharram rituals are taking adequate precautions to protect themselves and curb the spread of the pandemic.
Also read: Where Shia Islam begins and ends