Like many religious groups, Muslims are having to shift how they observe Ramadan.
Traditionally, the month of Ramadan is a time for prayer, fasting, community and reflection. Typically during this time mosques are filled, but the pandemic has closed them.
“We’re missing that big communal connection,” said Mojda Sidiqi, a local community activist and the former executive director of the Missouri Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “But that’s OK, because we’re safe in our home, and we’re able to get rest and we have quiet time to read the Quran.”
To adapt, many are hosting virtual iftars, the evening meal when Muslims break their fast.
Sidiqi said there are also positives in the midst of the pandemic. Usually, Muslims in the U.S. have to find ways to be accommodated in their daily lives during Ramadan.
“Every other year, everyone is running around and trying to find the time to eat and talking to their managers, like, ‘Is it OK if I take 15 minutes so that I can go break my fast? I haven’t eaten all day,’” she said. “Now all of those issues have been eliminated.”
This year, she said, many in the Muslim community are finally able to fully embrace Ramadan without the added day-to-day stresses and distractions.
“We’re all locked in the house,” she said. “We have no excuse not to be reading the Quran. We have no excuse not to meet every single one of our prayers at the time that it’s set. We have no excuse to not sit down with our family members who are quarantined with us every single day.”
Sidiqi said she hopes that during the pandemic people take this time to truly reflect on the importance and meaning behind Ramadan.
“We fast so that we can increase our self awareness, increase our empathy,” Sidiqi said. “So that we can do more good deeds. Help the needy. It’s such an amazing time to help the needy. There are people truly struggling right now. People have lost their jobs. People don’t have money to have a nice meal every single day.”
The last day of Ramadan is May 23.