KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Ramadan this year will certainly be more meaningful for Muslims in the country after they have been allowed to conduct congregational tarawih prayers at mosques and suraus without physical distancing beginning  last night.

This is in line with the transition to endemic phase that took effect  last night after more than two years of facing the Covid-19 pandemic, with various controls and restrictions being imposed, including physical distancing in houses of worship.

The easing of restrictions, which allows tarawih prayers to be conducted without physical distancing heralds a return to normalcy, at least for the month of Ramadan, which has been missing for the majority of Muslims in the country.

In Perak, private employee Aliff Nor Mukhriz, 53, felt relieved to be able to pray at the mosque without physical distancing, something that he was so used to during Ramadan before the pandemic struck.

Masjid Jamek Klebang Restu chairman Mohd Khir Napiah welcomed the new ruling, saying that the mosque would ensure all congregants complied with the standard operating procedure (SOP) and that breaking of fasts would be conducted with food packets.

In Pahang, civil servant Shazli Sufi Che Unik, 33, did not miss out on the opportunity to conduct tarawih prayers tonight with his family at Saidina Umar Al-Khattab Mosque, Perkampungan Cenderawasih, Kuantan.

“The previous year, my family and I only prayed at home, but this time we were excited to be able to come to the mosque together to commemorate Ramadan, but I hope that congregants will always wear facemasks properly to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

In Arau Mosque, Perlis, congregant Aiman Haikal Nasiruddin, 39, said although restrictions have been eased, he constantly reminded his family to continue wearing facemasks and using hand sanitisers while performing tarawih prayers at mosques to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the 3,000-capacity prayer hall of Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, was filled with congregants conducting tarawih prayers without physical distancing.

At Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad, Muslims of various nationalities came together to perform their first tarawih prayers for the month at the mosque located at the very heart of the capital.

In Sabah at the Kota Kinabalu Bandaraya Mosque, some 2,000 congregants performed the tarawih prayers tonight. Before prayers began, congregants were reminded to strictly follow the set SOP.

However, a retired clerk of a government agency Md Idrus Rahmat, 63, said he was a little upset that the mosque, which can accommodate 12,000 people, was not full tonight and hoped that there will be more congregants, especially youths, from tomorrow onwards.

In Putrajaya, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque saw about 1,500 congregants who came from the neighbouring area performing the tarawih prayers, which was led by iman Syeikh Mohamed Chourana from Algeria.

The mosque’s head of the corporate communication unit, Hisyarullil Md Husain said seven officials and staff from the mosque have been tasked to ensure that the congregation adhered to the SOP during the tarawih prayers.

A visit to the Mukim Kenor Mosque in Kuala Krai, Kelantan found that about 300 congregants were present to perform tarawih prayers while observing the SOP despite heavy rain since this evening.

In Terengganu, a member of the Information and Multimedia Committee of Masjid Al-Abrar Bukit Tok Beng, Fariq Awi said about 1,000 congregants were present to perform the tarawih prayers tonight with six imams taking turns to lead the prayers.

In Melaka, nearly 1,000 people came to perform the tarawih prayers on the first night of Ramadan.

In NegrI Sembilan, about 600 congregants filled the grounds of the State Mosque in Seremban for Isya’ and tarawih prayers led by the chief imam of the mosque, Dr Muhammad Yusry Mazlan.

At the Abdullah Fahim Mosque in Kepala Batas, Penang, parents also brought their children to perform tarawih prayers after the state allowed children under 12 to attend the prayers under watchful eyes of their guardians who have completed their vaccination for congregational tarawih prayers at mosques or suraus.

And in Setia Alam Mosque in Shah Alam, Selangor, congregants began arriving at around 8.30pm for the Isya’ prayers followed by tarawih prayers while in Kedah, congregants came as early as 7pm to perform the Maghrib prayers first before Isya’ and later tarawih prayers. — Bernama