What American Muslims do during this unique Ramadan?

TEHRAN, May 06 (MNA) – The fasting month of Ramadan is a time for reflection, prayer and socializing for American Muslims, however, this year’s ceremonies are not similar to those in past years.

There are some 3.45 million Muslims living in the United States. Each year, as the blessed month arrives, most of them follow their religious duties in keeping fast during daylight hours. Muslim Americans observe Ramadan in much the same way as Muslims in other countries do.

There are two main meals every day during Ramadan, one before dawn called ‘Suhoor’ and one after sunset called ‘Iftar’. As a tradition, these meals are being served in group gatherings with friends and families.

Muslims are also required to abstain from sexual intercourse when fasting and are encouraged to offer assistance to those in need. In practice, Muslims read more Quran and pray more in this month compared to 11 other months of the year

According to a survey published in 2017 by the Pew Research Center, 80% of American Muslims observe the holy month by fasting. In that 80%, there is little distinction between Muslims who were born overseas or in the United States, black or white, men or women.

As a tradition, mosques and Islamic centers across the US usually are packed with worshipers during the month of Ramadan, but this is not the case this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The US is the hardest hit by the virus with over 1.2 million infections and some 70,000 deaths. 

You could see mosques every night filled with prayers and socializing in the past years, however as the mosques are closed now, Muslims have to follow their prayers and reflection in the solitude of their homes.

Helping those affected by the outbreak

This Ramadan is like no other for all the Muslims around the globe, including those in the US. They cannot perform night prayers in mosques, hold iftar banquets with friends and families, and hold congregational prayers.

Fasting is an opportunity to experience the deprivation that the underprivileged and those affected by the COVID-19 economic consequences may endure every day. Novelist Laila Lalami suggests offering more to charities given the current conditions. “This year, I have donated more to food pantries, which have been overwhelmed with demand since schools and businesses were shuttered,” she wrote in an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times on April 28. “With unemployment reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression, food pantries will continue to need donations in the months ahead.”

A surge in Islamophobia

Seeing the COVID-19 as a great opportunity, far-right groups, in the West and other regions such as India, are taking advantage of it to pursue their hatemongering against Islam. Muslims’ prayers and ceremonies are basically social and this has been used by the extremist groups as a pretext for attacking Muslims. They have even clinched to posting fake videos of Muslims who say prayers in the streets to provoke Islamophobia.

Photo: A Muslim family in Illinois, participate in the evening prayer as the Iftar waits on the dining room table (Gulftoday, May 03)

Reporting by Mohammad Ali Haqshenas

News Code 158356

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