Life in Donets’k, a Ukrainian city controlled by separatists of self-proclaimed DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic), is not only hard, but also dangerous. Still, the city’s spiritual life didn’t fade. Muslims, despite the hardships and obstacles, curfew, often with risk for their freedom, health and even live, gather at the mosque to perform joint prayers.
As told by Mr.Hamza Issa, Head of AUASO “Alraid” Donbass Branch, the parishioners never abandoned the mosque even for a single day or night during the whole month of Ramadan. They performed all the prayers and made joint iftars. However, not everyone willing could stay at the mosque during the last 10 nights of Ramadan due to the hardships they face:
— People, of course, come mostly during the day, because of the curfew. You can’t move around the city at night, so there are much less people than usual during the night prayers. For instance, during the 27th night of Ramadan there were only about 60 people willing to stay overnight out of 100 Muslims who came during the daytime. Even that, however, was a big gesture in the current situation.
Mr.Issa also told that old parishioners are good role models in reading the Qur’an and prayers. Thus, 78-year old Mr. Harris-hajji Haritov refused to have some rest after the sleepless night and continued reading the Holy Book.
Despite the hardships, Muslims also make joint iftars as well. As told by Hamza, everything necessary — provision and money — is provided by the AUASO “Alraid” and Muslims who left Donetsk and moved either to unoccupied territory of Ukraine or abroad. Among them we can find many foreign students who studied in Ukrainian Universities. Only a few of them remained in Donetsk at the moment, and one of them, Abdullah from Iraq, decorated the mosque with beautiful Arabic Calligraphies.
Followers of Islam from the other occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions aren’t abandoned as well. Hamza Issa told that he and two of his assistants have been to many towns and villages over the recent days: Krasny Luch, Sverdlovsk, Alchevsk, Roven’ky and Luhansk, where they held joint prayers and iftars, and also delivered grocery baskets to local Muslims. People are in those and many other settlements are in plight, so they decided to shorten saqat-al-fitr for them to UAH 25 (comparing to UAH 75 on the rest of Ukraine’s territory).