For millions of Muslims all over the world, the observance of Ramadan begins tonight, and just like we saw with Easter and Passover, this is another religious event which has to yield to the realities of the COVID19 pandemic.
In Pembroke Pines, the Darul Uloom Institute is, unlike most mosques, technically open, but on Friday afternoon there were only a handful of congregants inside for the start of Ramadan prayers.
“We have discouraged them, but we did not shut the doors,” said Shaikh Shafayat Mohamed, the spiritual leader of the mosque.
In fact, the doors have signs on them advising everyone to wear masks inside while practicing social distancing. We saw plenty of space between each person praying inside.
“We have people wearing masks, we have people praying six feet apart, so we have to full social distancing and the nine yards that CDC has recommended,” Shaikh Mohamed said.
Like many other mosques around South Florida and the nation, they’re streaming their services to those at home, and of course, the sermon incorporates what everyone is talking about.
“Coronavirus and how it effects the Muslims and the humanity throughout the world,” said the Shaikh as he began speaking about the impacts of the pandemic on all of us, and relating it to the meaning of the holiday.
“It’s a month, of course, of blessings, the opportunity to read the scriptures, to do charity, and do all the good works that a person is supposed to be doing throughout the year,” Shaikh Mohamed said.
This year, with so many people suffering from the impacts of the pandemic, Shaikh Mohamed is asking the faithful to donate money right away to causes like the local food banks, instead of waiting until the end of Ramadan. That’s especially important because Ramadan commands Muslims to fast every day during the holiday from dawn to dusk.
“We want to encourage people to give these poor people money so they could go and buy what they need to eat,” the Shaikh said.
For the next 30 days, observant Muslims will practice self reflection, they will commit to doing more for charity, and the pandemic can’t stop that.
In fact, the Shaikh hopes it might spark even more acts of kindness and generosity.