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Opinion >  Column

Faith and Values: Return of Ramadan in-person brings Islamic communities closer together

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 SpokaneFāVS.com.  (Courtesy Spokane FāVS)
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 SpokaneFāVS.com. (Courtesy Spokane FāVS)

Ramadan began on April 2. Muslims across the globe are abstaining from eating and drinking for 29 to 30 days depending on 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 when devotees try to awaken their spirituality. It is a scheme to improve human beings. The month of Ramadan is, in fact, the month of purification of the soul. This month demands that man reassesses his life; that he reviews all his affairs; that he replans his religious and dawah life; that he purifies his heart and mind; that he builds a new personality within himself. In this way, he should totally overhaul himself in every religious and spiritual respect.”

The pandemic challenged all faiths, including their practices, services and rituals. Similarly, Islam was also challenged. These challenges were deeply felt during the last two Ramadans. New traditions were made, and new practices were followed for the rituals. This Ramadan there is an excitement and hope within the Muslim communities that we go back to the old traditions. So far it looks like we are going back to the old ways, yet we are also prepared to embrace any change if required.

The pandemic showed us that nothing is constant, and change is imminent. We should always be ready to adapt and find ways to tackle new changes in life.

For the Muslims living in the West, their local Islamic centers play a vital role in connecting them with their faith and providing them with a platform to attend religious services. On a personal level it was deeply disheartening for me as I could not feel the essence of Ramadan at its fullest along with my fellow Muslims at my Islamic center. Attending services together brings out the feeling of unity and servitude.

I conducted an informal survey to see how many Islamic centers across America are easing up on their COVID-19 protocols. The responses that I received clearly showed that most Islamic centers are easing up their restrictions.

Most have already ended social distancing for congregational prayers. Masks are optional. Most are prepared to welcome their congregations for services and community events during this holy month. It is precisely because the COVID-19 rates are falling 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 on providing online opportunities to those who still do not feel comfortable or are vulnerable, so they feel connected with their Islamic centers and communities.

On a personal level, I am excited to get back to my Islamic center for daily Ramadan congregational prayers. The last two years are a great reminder for us to not take anything for granted. Something as simple as praying together was not possible and now when we return to normalcy, we should appreciate it more than ever. Muslims across America are reviving to rejoice in the festivities of Ramadan.

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.

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