As local Muslim communities spot the glimmering crescent moon in the midst of empty streets and darkness, we emerge into a month of holiness spent in isolation rather than in bustling mosques engulfed in a celebratory communal spirit.
Being a Muslim celebrating the month of Ramadan in quarantine — a time in which millions of Muslims around the globe are used to celebrating rejoicefully with their communities — is obviously a very different experience. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is a special holy month for Muslims to celebrate the anniversary of the revelation of the Quran. Muslims spend this month reconnecting with God through prayer, fasting every day from sunrise to sunset, reading the Quran, doing charity and overall just using every moment to remember God. Many Muslims would usually spend this time with their loved ones and their friends, breaking their fast together as a community, going to the mosque together and spending this month in a festive and holy mood. It would be a community effort that helps bring people closer together and fosters a sense of belonging for everyone.
Unfortunately, the nationwide lockdown due to the pandemic has called for a pause in all human contact and has forced the closure of many community centers and places of religious gathering. Mosques — which have been a home for many Muslims to pray, read and connect with their communities — have been shut down and empty for weeks.
While it may seem difficult for many Muslims to find that surge of motivation to connect with God while stuck at home instead of being around people who can help inspire a renewed spiritual connection, I find this Ramadan to be a blessing in disguise. On any other day, I wouldn’t have found the time to cultivate my spirituality and connection to God. Instead I would be burdened with assignments, my commute to classes, other work obligations and would lose time focusing on the small tasks that take over my day.
Being at home, I’ve not only been able to spend more time with my family while we all fast, but I’ve also been able to organize my time in a way that allows me to peacefully remember God and practice my faith during such an important and holy time. I’ve made Zoom plans with my Muslim friends so we can stay connected and do not forget the feeling of practicing our faith together, and I’ve also found time to decorate my home with Ramadan accessories to lift up the spirits of my family. Now more than ever, I have seen a multitude of charitable initiatives — more than I have seen in years past; it has been wonderful seeing so many people help others and raise money. To me, this Ramadan should be just as enjoyable as any other. With so much time on our hands to develop our self-awareness and spiritual reflection, I find it easier to enhance my creativity while following Islamic practices.