Faith and values: the return of Ramadan in person brings Islamic communities closer together
Ramadan started on April 2. Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink for 29-30 days according to the lunar calendar.
They will enthusiastically attend Islamic centers, mosques, religious gatherings and community iftars.
As Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, an Islamic spiritual scholar (now deceased) once said: “Ramadan is a month of spiritual activism where the faithful try to awaken their spirituality. It is a plan to improve human beings. The month of Ramadan is, indeed, the month of purification of the soul. This month requires a man to re-evaluate his life; let him review all his affairs; that he replan his religious life and dawah; let him purify his heart and his mind; build a new personality. In this way, he should revise himself totally in all religious and spiritual respects.
The pandemic has tested all faiths, including their practices, services and rituals. Likewise, Islam was also challenged. These challenges have been deeply felt over the past two Ramadans. New traditions were created and new practices were followed for rituals. This Ramadan, there is excitement and hope within Muslim communities that we are returning to old traditions. So far it looks like we are going back to the old ways, but we are also ready to accept any changes if needed.
The pandemic has shown us that nothing is constant and that change is imminent. We must always be ready to adapt and find ways to deal with new changes in life.
For Muslims living in the West, their local Islamic centers play a vital role in connecting them to their faith and providing a platform for them to attend religious services. On a personal level, this discouraged me deeply as I could not fully experience the essence of Ramadan with my fellow Muslims in my Islamic center. Attending services together brings out the feeling of unity and bondage.
I conducted an informal survey to see how many Islamic centers across America are relaxing their COVID-19 protocols. The responses I received clearly show that most Islamic centers are relaxing their restrictions.
Most have already ended social distancing for congregational prayers. Masks are optional. Most are ready to host their congregations for services and community events during this holy month. It’s precisely because COVID-19 rates are dropping and mask mandates are easing that things are starting to look hopeful.
My local Islamic centers are also ending protocols, including social distancing during congregational prayers. Continuing to use masks is recommended but not required. They are also working to provide online opportunities for those who still feel uncomfortable or vulnerable to feel connected to their Islamic centers and communities.
On a personal level, I am delighted to return to my Islamic center for the daily congregational prayers of Ramadan. The past two years have reminded us not to take anything for granted. Something as simple as praying together was not possible and now that we are back to normal we should appreciate it more than ever. Muslims across America are waking up to rejoice in the Ramadan festivities.
Maimoona Harrington was born and raised in Pakistan and moved to the United States with her family in 2008. She writes the Ask A Muslim column for SpokaneFaVS.com.