Celebrating Ramadan in quarantine

MADISON, Wis. — Muslims in Madison are celebrating Ramadan differently with social distancing requirements and mosques closed due to the coronavirus.

Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer and reflection observed in the Islamic faith typically involving many community based social interactions that Muslims worldwide this year are having to forgo.

“It kind of feels like you have this disconnection,” said Heba Saeed who’s been a part of the Madison Muslim community since she was a child. “You break your fast and normally you’d go to the mosque afterwards but now you’re like what do I do now?”

Like so many stuck at home during the pandemic, some Muslims are utilizing social media and the internet as a way to stay connected to their faith and one another.

Community leaders have taken to posting sermons online, people have joined Ramadan group chats, and some have even shared meals via a video conference.

While many are making do adjusting to the new normal Islamic Center of Madison Treasurer Sadat Abiri said though she understands the importance of social distancing it hasn’t been easy–especially now.

“I miss my friends because it was a culture where we all come together every time to celebrate,” she said. “We look forward to seeing each other–even there are some people that I see only once a year and that’s during Ramadan.”

To help cope with the changes to Ramadan Nura Said said she’s viewing the stay at home order as a unique opportunity for internal reflection during the Islamic holy month.

“I couldn’t think of a better time to do this without any outside distractions,” she said. “So that’s been nice to be able to focus on growing as a person spiritually at home.”

While a Ramadan in quarantine comes with its share of challenges Imaan Saeed said there’s a lesson to be learned.

“I think it’s taught us to be a lot more grateful for the things that we do have, whether it’s family or whether it’s you know just having a basic meal on the table,” Imaan said. “I definitely think it’s almost added an interesting element to the month, almost an extra layer of humbleness or an extra layer of gratitude.”

In lieu of community Iftars–meals to break a fast–the Islamic Center of Madison is issuing Ramadan food packages for those in need.