This year, the holy month of Ramadan will be a very different experience for us all. COVID-19 induced social distancing will mean no group gatherings, no communal iftaars, and no Quranic circles before breaking our fasts, for most of us. Just a few months ago, it would have been inconceivable not to go to the masjid during this special month. Forced to stay away from the masjid to prevent the spread of the virus, we now have a craving for that spiritual connection that we may otherwise not have felt. This feeling fosters a fresh recognition as to how vital our Masajid, Community, and social structures are.
Fasting, we are told, teaches us patience and humility. Not only does it enable us to appreciate what it means not to have enough to eat, but it also makes us grateful for the food and blessings we have. This Ramadan, the long line at the grocery store, can teach us patience as we wait to buy the supplies for our next meal. It can also foster greater empathy for the millions who don’t enjoy our comfortable lifestyle and have to wait in line for their food regularly.
As the coronavirus stalks victims around the world, our hopes rest upon the healthcare personnel who care for our loved ones when they are hospitalized. From the first responders, nurses, and doctors, to grocery store employees, many are putting their health and safety on the line to keep us safe and provide for us. All this teaches us not only to value and pray for those who serve humanity but to reciprocate when times are better by being more compassionate toward them.
Today much of the personal time that used to be part of our busy daily schedules — commutes, rushing to the gym, going to the store — is now available during this Ramadan; creating space for us to reflect. This hiatus provides us a unique opportunity for self-reckoning (muhasiba) every day for an entire month.
A critical reflection that coronavirus pandemic has presented to us is that no one is exempt from the possibility of infection. It does not matter what your color or culture is, whether you are rich or poor, male or female, young or old, a laborer or a billionaire– when it comes to COVID-19, we are all equal. This Ramadan allows us to truly imbibe and internalize that universal teaching of equality in our thoughts and deeds.
A transformational reality the pandemic has brought to the fore is how vital faith is to our lives, to make sense of all this during this month. Imam Ali (AS) said: “the difficulty which leads you away from God is a torment, and the difficulty which brings you near to God is a test.” Let us not lose this once in a lifetime opportunity to be even closer to Allah, having taken all the precautions repose our faith in the will Allah.
We pray for the safety of all humanity and that we pass that test.
Please join us for a virtual Iftar experience on Zoom as we observe the holy month of Ramadan and help create a peaceful society by building new relationships around the relevance of faith today in the three major Abrahamic faiths.
Faith leaders will speak on efforts to control the coronavirus, how to build good communication during the crisis, and how the Abrahamic religions can collaborate on charitable initiatives.
Iftar means ‘fast-breaking’ and it is an integral part of the Muslim community life during the sacred month of Ramadan. Muslims break their daily Ramadan fast with a community dinner. Please join us to make this a memorable evening with M4P and break bread together in the holy month of Ramadan!