How tech is reshaping Ramadan this year for Muslims in Malaysia

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is an important time in the Islamic calendar where Muslims all over the world take part in fasting between dawn and sunset to devote themselves to their faith and empathise with people who are less fortunate than them.

Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds, and spending time with family and friends. Though this year is different, as the pandemic has forced much of the 1.1 billion Muslims living in Asia into lockdown, unable to see family and friends or even go to a mosque.

We take a look at how Muslims in Malaysia have been using tech to pass this year’s holy month in unprecedented times.

  • Accommodating large family reunions

This year many families who usually spend Ramadan together are spending it apart – even university students were not given time to return home before the MCO (movement control order) came into effect. To stay connected, people are using apps such as Google Duo to keep in touch. In March, Google increased group calling from eight to 12 participants following requests from its users.

  • Keeping religious services going

Ramadan is not just a time for fasting and spending time with family; it is also a time to get closer to one’s faith. With mosques closed, more Muslims are ditching social media to watch live usrah (religious discussions) videos. This year, the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs have also started their own video series, attracting tens of thousands of subscribers.

  • Recreating Ramadan bazaars online
Credit: Bernama

Ramadan bazaars, places where people can go after sunset to grab a bite to eat, have adapted to the MCO. Many hawkers have jumped on existing food delivery services like Grab and Foodpanda, but Instagram, which boasts having around one-third of Malaysia’s population on its platform, has released “Order Food” stickers and buttons to be inserted onto stories and profiles. Some Malaysian states, including Pahang and Selangor, have also added food delivery features to their online platforms.

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