Thursday marked the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, during which most Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset.
Usually when breaking fast, Muslims gather to eat with friends and family. But this year, because of restrictions intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, there will be no major gatherings during Ramadan.
One community, though, has created a virtual gathering to give everyone — Muslims and non-Muslims alike — a chance to partcipate in Ramadan.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada — the Canadian branch of the Ahmadiyya Muslim religion — has created a virtual Ramadan event, and is inviting all Canadians to meet online and participate in Ramadan activities on Saturday at 2 p.m. CST.
“Generally there are lots of questions around Ramadan. How we fast, why we fast,” said Mubarak Syed, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Saskatoon.
“So this is a great way to be part of it and to learn more about Islam.”
Syed said socializing and getting together is a big part of Islamic culture.
“Particularly in Ramadan, there’s more socializing, more gathering at the mosque [for] prayers, getting together for evening suppers, breaking the fast,” Syed said. “But this year, we would not be able to do that due to the pandemic.
“So we decided that to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive and well, we should do it virtually online.”
Syed said Ramadan is good for the body and soul.
“It is a time of self-reflection and self reformation and self discipline,” he said. “To me, fasting is like a refresher course, both physically and spiritually.”
Raed Al Jamous, a Syrian refugee who moved to Saskatoon in 2016 with his wife and children, is looking to find the positive in this unusual situation.
He said observing Ramadan during a pandemic gives you a chance to get to know your family even better.
“We need to be optimistic. It’s a good opportunity to adjust, to build ties, and just a good opportunity to be grateful for being safe at home,” Al Jamous said.
“And the more we are following the restrictions, the more we can flatten the curve.”
You can follow the virtual Ramadan event via social media by searching the hashtag #VirtualRamadan, or visit virtualRamadan.ca.