Ramadan in the age of Coronavirus

Ramadan is Islam’s holy month, where believers of the religion, Muslims, practice it all over the world in a specific month prescribed for them. This year, Ramadan is expected to be on April 23, starting on the evening of a Thursday.

Ramadan comes every year, and for 30 days Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. They start their day off with Sahur, which is where they wake up before the first prayer of the day, Fajr, to eat and hydrate. They break their fast at Iftar, which is where they eat at the call of the fourth prayer of the day after sunset, Maghrib.

“Muslims follow a lunar calendar — that is, one based on the phases of the moon — whose 12 months add up to approximately 354 days. That’s 11 days shorter than the 365 days of the standard Gregorian calendar. Therefore, the Islamic lunar calendar moves backward approximately 11 days each year in relation to the regular Gregorian calendar” said Jennifer Williams on Vox. Each year, an estimate of 11 days varies on the start date of Ramadan.

Muslims who are not required to fast are: pregnant, ill, children, breastfeeding mothers, menstruating women and travelers.

On About Islam, a saying by Prophet Muhammad — peace and blessings upon him — reported by Abu Hurayrah said, “Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is fasting he should neither indulge in obscene language nor should he raise his voice in anger. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: “I am fasting!”

Ramadan is a time of peace and observance of one’s faith. It is a period of time to reconnect with our God, Allah. As there are 335 days out of 365, where people are busy with their daily lives with work, school, children, family and life, Ramadan is a great time to utilize to catch up with their ibadet, which is worship.

Ramadan is also great for interfaith iftars, where many take place in Washington and worldwide. Members of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Washingtonian communities come to break bread while educating and learning about one another’s beliefs. 

As a Muslim American myself, the memories of Ramadan never fail to bring joy to me. Fasting an estimate of 15–17 hours in the Pacific Northwest with no water or food was really not hard. Understanding the importance of food and how much of our time eating takes was astonishing. I loved connecting to my Lord and rekindling my relationship with my religion, making myself a better version of me. 

Breaking my fast with my Muslim brothers and sisters, praying at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound and Islamic Center of Tacoma brings nothing but happiness. Wearing my favorite abayas from my other home country of Turkey, and being part of organizing interfaith Iftars was heartwarming. Finally, breaking bread with our Washingtonian communities and eating delicious foods from all around the world is such a grateful experience. Not to mention going to Starbucks before they close at 9 p.m. to grab some coffee since I couldn’t during the day while I was fasting. 

During this time of quarantine in 2020, these community Iftars are on hold for now, as well as Taraweeh prayers, which is prayer during the fifth prayer, Isha, practiced at the Mosque during Ramadan. Muslims have now had to pray at their homes instead of Mosques to practice social-distancing during this pandemic. 

So how will Ramadan be practiced during this self-isolation period? This is a new transition for everyone, and as the date for the resumption of public gatherings is uncertain, making the best of what we have is the right way to go. 

“In His infinite mercy, Allah has sent the light of Ramadan to erase the night. He has sent the month of the Qur’an so that He might elevate us and bring us from our isolation to His nearness.” In Yasmin Mogahed’s book “Reclaim your Heart”.”

Although we feel isolated from friends, activities and socialization, it is a reminder that even though we plan and map out our lives, Allah is the best of planners. He knows what is best for us, and what will benefit us. So while one of the important factors of Ramadan is to get closer to our Lord, let us seek reassurance and security from Him and Him alone. 

We cannot know what will happen the next year of our lives, nor week, day, minute and even second. Although interfaith Iftar and Taraweeh prayers in the Mosque will be missed by many, let us utilize this time to show that we are stronger than before because of our beliefs, no matter Islamic, Christian, Catholic, Judaic and more. Praying at home, breaking bread with family or by ourselves will be hard, but know that we have the love of our Lord and our beliefs with us at all times.