Ramadan, the month of fasting and prayer in Islam began at sunset Thursday. Though the holiday is deeply personal, some group celebrations will be missed this year.
In Islam, Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calandar. It celebrates God giving Muhammad the first chapters of the Qur’an, Islam’s holy text. Muslims spend the month praying and fasting during the day.
Often they pray together, “One of the social components of fasting during the month of Ramadan is that Muslims often go to the mosque to pray together during the night,” said Mun’im Sirry who teaches Qur’anic studies at the University of Notre Dame.
With social distancing in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, those gatherings won’t happen. Sirry said Muslims also often gather for a meal, called iftar, after sunset to break their fast.
“Oftentimes people might invite others to their home to celebrate the end of fasting. So this kind of thing would be missed during this difficult time.”
The final night of Ramadan is called Eid al-fitr; it is a meal and celebration. Sirry likens it to school and graduation, you spend the month praying, learning, fasting and doing good deeds, then you get to celebrate at the end.
This year Eid al-fitr, on May 23rd, will likely be celebrated in homes with immediate family, instead of with larger community gatherings.