Ramadan in the occupied Donbas
Sheikh Said Ismagilov, mufti, performed a monitoring of the situation in the occupied part of Donbas and shared his information on RISU blog.
"The Holy Ramadan is the most important period of religious calendar for Muslims. It is a month of daytime fasting, night prayers, Quran reading and charity dinners - Iftars, when Muslims treat to rich foodall those who come to the mosque - the house of the Almighty Allah. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him!) said: “O people! A great month is coming to you. It has the night of Al-Qadr that is better than a thousand months. Fasting in this month was made a must by Allah and the night prayer Tarawih is highly desirable to perform. This is the month of patience, and the reward for patience is the Paradise. This is the month of compassion. Those who give Iftar to a fasting man, freetheir neck from hellfire and receive redemption of their sins.”
God's grace is infinite, as the sanctity of God’s chosen time. This grace comes both to peaceful towns and villages, and the land where the insidious undeclared war is being waged, and the inhabitants are taken captives by disguised military men of a foreign country.
Last year I spent Ramadan in Donetsk. The invaders have already established a curfew, there was already a constant shelling from all kinds of heavy weapons, and just at this time the columns of militants from Slovyansk and other cities invaded Donetsk.
A feature of the Muslim Tarawah prayer in Ramadan is that it ends deep in the night. Every night returning from the mosque by car, we broke curfew, and every other time we were stopped by patrols on the deserted streets. Once they even opened fire with automatic weapons, fortunately they shot on top of the car, because we seemed suspiciousto them. They used foul language swearing at us and fidgeted our passports, but then let us go.
Despite the danger, the faithful still go to the mosque, risking even to be thrown to the basement at Schorsa street in the dungeons of the former building of the Security Service. Religious life needled its way even in such conditions. This year it became more difficult and dangerous to fulfil one’s religious duties during the holy month.
Due to the strict curfew, some 7-10 people attend the night prayer in our mosque. These people have their residence on the streets surrounding the mosque and can slip more or less unnoticed. One may travel from other parts of the city only before curfew and stay in the mosque until the morning as nobody takes a risk of returning home at night. Imam of Donetsk Mosque "Al-Amal" Sheikh Hamza Issasaid that "Tarawah prayer is performed daily in accordance with the Islamic canon, but the number of parishioners is small. In the days when the mosque held an Iftar dinner, more Muslims come, but they must remain in the mosque until morning because of a curfew.”
Tarawah-namaz in the mosque
On June 28, a missile hit once again in the large Cathedral Mosque of Donetsk, located in the area of the contact line of terrorists with the armed forces of Ukraine. Chair of the The Prophet’s Star community Bragin Rashid reported it in social networks. This was the third hit in the mosque during the last year; previously the mosque dome got broken and one wall of the buildingwas damaged. This happens becausemilitants locate their firing positions in the city, hiding among residential areas of Donetsk andshelling the Ukrainian cities, villages and positions of the Armed Forces. As a result, the mosque is in disrepair. Tarawah night prayers are not held there at night.
In the mosque of Makiyivka, located in the old area of the city, the night prayers were not held at the beginning of Ramadan due to the curfew. Then some male Muslims living nearby in the private sector started attending it. The number of parishioners at night is some 5-7 persons.
After the Cathedral Mosque of Luhansk was hit by a Grad missile, Muslim community repaired it and now they hold the Tarawa-night prayer. An unexploded shell which stuck out in the middle of the prayer roomwas neutralized. According toHead of Luhansk Muslim community SaifullahRashidov, due tothe curfew, only about 10 parishioners gather each night in advance in the mosque, have dinner together and pray,staying at mosqueuntil dawn when the curfew ends.
In the cities of Stakhanov, KrasnyLuch, Torez, Snizhne, Bryanka, the mosque are not attended in the night. There is currently no information as for the activities of mosques in the cities of Alchevsk, Antratsit, Sverdlovsk and Shakhtarsk.
The charitable dinners–iftars – are held once a week in the occupied areas, at the expense of donations received from Muslims from all over Ukraine. They are attended by themost needy co-religionists - the elderly, the disabled, children and large families. The communities prepare food, and treat to it all those who come to the mosque.
Before the beginning of the holy month, the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims recommended that Muslims in the occupied territories should not risk their lives and becareful, incase of danger they should not attend a mosque but pray at home.
Donbas is the second (after the Ukrainian Crimea) region of Ukraine by Muslim population. Prior to the occupation, there were about 250 thousand Muslims in Donbas, and a mosque was builtin almostevery major city since independence. Most Muslims of Donbas remained under occupation along with their places of worship.