US Muslims adapt to the unprecedented challenges in Ramadan amid coronavirus lockdown - GulfToday

US Muslims adapt to the unprecedented challenges in Ramadan amid coronavirus lockdown


Imam Mufti Mohammed Ismail, center, and volunteer Mohammad Q Ullah, left, delivers a box of food supplies.

For Muslims in the United States, there is no other time more centered around gathering in congregation than the holy month of Ramadan.

In every corner of the country, believers attend community iftar meals to break the fast and then pack neatly into tight rows for nightly prayers at the mosque.

But this year, Ramadan falls during a global pandemic. In the U.S., with the world’s highest COVID-19 death toll, that means being forced to mark the month in different, more virtual and sometimes solitary ways.

As they re-imagine some of the spiritual and social rituals, many are relying on a mix of at-home worship and a myriad of online religious programming.

muslim2 Asghar Ali Khan and his wife Shaheen, participate in the evening prayer as the Iftar waits on the dining room table.


Ricardo Ramirez became a Muslim before a crowd of believers.

As soon as he uttered the shahada, the Islamic testimony of faith, the faithful broke into chants of "Allahu Akbar.” He was told that day that "all of these brothers and sisters are your brothers and sisters.”

Since then, he says, the community has been there for him. But Ramirez is experiencing a milestone in his faith journey - his first Ramadan as a Muslim - as the virus disrupts worship and mosques close.

muslim3 Ricardo Ramirez poses for a photograph during an interview.


The An-Noor Cultural Center and masjid, or mosque, is located blocks from Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, where patients have been dying from COVID-19 at an alarming rate.

Imam Mufti Mohammed Ismail is the principal of the religious school at An-Noor.

A prayer of "protection from diseases” is printed in Arabic and English on a paper posted to the mosque wall, and Ismail says the Bangladeshi community has lost "close to 150 people” to COVID-19 across New York City.

muslim4 Imam Mufti Mohammed Ismail prays near boxes of food supplies prepared for distribution to those impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

As deaths rise, Imam Ismail is trying to serve community members suffering in other ways. With mosques shuttered as the city reels, volunteers from An-Noor Cultural Center are preparing food boxes for those who would have relied on the center for iftar every evening.


Over the last six weeks, Shaheen Khan has gotten more comfortable sitting in front of the camera and conducting online Islamic lessons.

The 54-year-old mother of four teaches at the Hadi School, a Montessori Islamic school in Schaumburg, Illinois, that provides Islamic teachings .


In shadow of coronavirus Muslims face a Ramadan like never before

Thousands join special Ramadan prayers

Ramadan even in Eid prayers to be done at home amid coronavirus, says Saudi grand mufti

Khan arrived in the U.S. from India in 1990 and has been teaching ever since. But in 30 years, she’s never had to face the challenge of connecting with her students remotely day after day.

Of the time at home, she says this: "Maybe this is Allah’s way of resetting a button for us.”


Related articles