For the second year in a row, Muslims celebrated the holy month of Ramadan during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this month, Muslims typically gather to strengthen their faith and beliefs alongside the members of their communities. Still, unfortunately, due to the lockdowns and safety regulations enforced on worship centers and public gatherings, many Muslims were restricted from getting together to celebrate. As Ramadan is the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims found alternative methods to participate in communal worship, offer charity, and keep the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan alive.
Ramadan is a month-long holiday where Muslims celebrate abstaining from worldly desires such as food, water, and sexual activity from sunrise to sunset, in addition to refraining from committing immoral acts and sins and using vulgar language. During this holy time, Muslims focus on strengthening their faith through charity, worship, reflection, and obtaining more knowledge about their religion and beliefs.
During previous years, many Muslims gravitated towards Mosques to pray and break their fasts together, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns, this was no longer possible for the duration of the holy month in 2021. Although challenging, Muslims developed alternative methods to stay close and in touch with other members of their communities for worship and prayer. Mosque executives and volunteers created and organized programs and events and scheduled prayers through video streaming applications such as zoom and YouTube, which allowed people to join and participate virtually. Although it wasn’t exactly the same, these types of programs proved beneficial as they allowed individuals to feel connected to their communities and as if they belonged to something greater than themselves. Some Mosques even opted to schedule informational seminars on self-care and healthy diets, in addition to topics relating to Islamic history and practices, to ensure the well-being of the community.
During this month, Muslims would normally donate and offer charity by preparing food for their community and then distributing it at Mosques. As the COVID-19 restrictions prevented Muslims from gathering to break their fasts together, families decided to either independently prepare food or just order meals from restaurants and then deliver them to their friends’ and families’ houses before sunset. In fact, some Mosques had even developed a program where people could donate money, and Mosque executives and volunteers would in turn purchase pre-made meals from restaurants at a discounted price. Volunteers would then deliver and distribute the meals to members of the community for families to enjoy after they break their fast.
Ramadan is a month where Muslims appreciate gathering with their community to strengthen and reinforce their faith and beliefs. Although the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the public from celebrating together, Muslims persevered and established programs and systems that allowed them to maintain a strong sense of community to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive.
Written By: Maryam Namazifard
Maryam is going into her fourth year studying Nutrition and Dietetics at Brescia University College, and enjoys gardening, baking, and exploring new cities! She has a strong belief that comprehensive nutritional literacy skills promote the development of healthy dietary habits, and therefore works with elementary schools to create workshops that allow young students to gain valuable food literacy skills. Additionally, Maryam contributes to researching the impacts of COVID-19 on the food sector, and examines the effects of subsequent government policies and support programs available for food retail businesses. Maryam has been a volunteer with the MLFPC since March 2021, and hopes to use her skills for the development and advancement of the community!