The rampant and global spread of CODIV-19 has changed life as we know it. Among its other consequences, many of us have to practice social distancing or even adhere to lockdowns.
This drastic but necessary precaution will likely eliminate the possibility of hosting or attending the usual Ramadan festivities.
Community Gatherings and Happy Memories
Some of my fondest childhood memories took place during Ramadan. Every year, my family’s dearest friends have gathered for iftaars, taraweeh prayers, and lectures. Days of fasting are often exhausting and challenging.
Thoughts of spending the night surrounded by friends and family, gives us a lift during fasting. Especially living in a non-Muslim majority country, it’s important to have a network who share your beliefs and traditions.
Everyone in lockdown will sorely miss the sense of community that we cherish in Ramadan.
Nusayba*, a mother quarantined in the United States, observes: “Community gatherings like iftaars in the masjid and Tarawih Prayers make Ramadan a time of togetherness.
If we cannot participate in these things, it will definitely change the nature of this holy month. It will, out of necessity, be a month of introspection and private worship and the focus will be on our immediate family. If we want a sense of celebration, we’ll need to create it ourselves.”
Missing the Masjid
According to 17-year-old Amira*, Ramadan will feel very different without the usual communal events. She mentioned suhoor and fajr prayer at the masjid as two of the aspects she’ll miss the most. “It just won’t feel the same,” she lamented. She is still eager for the month to begin but already feels a sense of loss.
These same concerns apply to Eid celebrations. It is highly unlikely that the pandemic will be resolved in time for large parties to take place. This year’s Eid al Fitr will probably be marked by small celebrations of quarantined families in their homes.
An Opportunity For a More Meaningful Month
Maybe there is a way to curb the disappointment the Muslim community will undoubtedly be feeling in the coming weeks. Everyone must keep the actual point of Ramadan in the forefront of their minds.
While get-togethers are enjoyable and enriching, they are not the purpose of Ramadan. Fasting, charity, and self-control can still take place, even when we are in lockdown. Unencumbered by social distractions, we can embrace our current circumstances as a blessing and an opportunity to become closer to Allah (swt).
Though it is easy to become caught up in the panic that is so prevalent in today’s society, strengthening one’s relationship with the Creator is far more constructive than falling into despair.
This Ramadan will be unique and revealing of what each individual really loves about the month: the self-improvement, God-consciousness, and self-control, or the events so strongly associated with this time of worship?
*Both interviewee names have been changed