Phoebe Aseoche Grace
Apr 15, 2021
As you know, Ramadan started on April 13, 2021. Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic religion, and during this month, the Muslim community unites in prayer and fasting. During the time of Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to fast from dusk to dawn and are discouraged from listening to music, smoking, fighting, and cursing.
The first few days of Ramadan are known to be challenging, just like starting a new routine, but the pandemic has definitely put a strain on such a time. This isn’t the first Ramadan that was celebrated during COVID (on April 23, 2020) and it might not be the last. How did the celebration of Ramadan change from last year to this year?
I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my closest friends and classmates who is a 17-year old Muslim girl at TYWLS. Being a junior in high school has put a strain on her however she has always persevered and has made her a lot closer to her friends and family. She described the ups and downs of staying at home and how that has impacted her family’s roles during Ramadan. When I asked her how her overall life was impacted by COVID, she noticed how “boring it was… every day is the same. I am not going outside often.” With not being able to go to specific stores, eat at restaurants or even see other friends, her life wasn’t the same. Everyone is impacted by the pandemic especially families and loved ones. Although the pandemic may be unsure and stressful, she chose “traumatizing” to describe COVID life. How “It’s just because of the pandemic and everyone had to stay home, my family and I would fight more.” We all have our challenges and the pandemic has put so much uncertainty in our education, exams, and daily routines.
Due to the pandemic, prayer locations were changed as well as regulations for online prayers and banning public dinners after sunset as Ramadan begins this week. Mosques are still closed but it might change due to vaccines being distributed. Photo by New Strait Times.
Ramadan was a challenge to celebrate at the beginning of the pandemic because of the social distancing and the height of the COVID cases rising. Soon afterward, many religious areas and landmarks were closed until further notice, specifically, Mosques–the Islamic place of worship. “Before the pandemic, my dad and brother would go to the mosque and break their fast there. And my mom and grandmother would break our fast at home. There was definitely cooking involved! And we would get invited to go to the mosque as well, but last year we weren’t. I miss going to the mosque with my family.”
However, this didn’t stop the Muslim community from upholding their traditions that it seemed as though everything was normal. “We did everything the same as last year. Breaking our fast means, after a long day of not eating, we would sit at a table and eat. We would stay up all night and do prayers and stuff. Although the pandemic and its restrictions have caused a damper in our lives, traditions are still being upheld.”
The TYWLS Community is encouraging and supporting those celebrating Ramadan through comforting letters through the TYWLS news school-wide email. Ramadan is a very sacred tradition to Muslim communities and having support from classmates or family has made these times more reassuring. More and more tactics are being used to shape this weird time in the world back to normalcy or the “new normal”. Slowly, society is adapting to the limitation and fears that COVID resurfaces but we are changing along with it.
(www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. “Arab Countries Are Adapting Ramadan Traditions to Pandemic: DW: 11.04.2021.” DW.COM, www.dw.com/en/arab-countries-are-adapting-ramadan-traditions-to-pandemic/a-57146146. Mohamed Chtatou - Dr Mohamed Chtatou is a professor at the University of Mohammed V in Rabat. Apr 27, et al. “Understanding Ramadan, Its History, and Original Meaning.” Morocco World News, 29 Apr. 2020, www.moroccoworldnews.com/2020/04/300806/understanding-ramadan-its-history-and-original-meaning/ .