Just as Jews and Christians experienced a strange emptiness as they tried to create a feeling of community during Passover and Easter through the use of video conferencing technology, now Muslims confront celebrating the holiest month on the Islamic calendar from a social distance as Ramadan begins sundown Friday, April 24.
For the last 15 years, Ramadan for Rouzana Hares of Novi and her family has revolved around being with her community at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills. The dentist and longtime volunteer at both her mosque and with IFLC helped plan Ramadan programming and events. Each day at the MUC during Ramadan there is a flurry of activity for all ages: from prayers to meals to special study sessions during the last 10 days of the month.
“We would be at the mosque nearly every night with friends and extended family,” Hares said. “Now, this has all been taken away from us. We all feel lost on how we can maintain our spirituality and renew those connections and bonds of friends and family as we usually do during Ramadan.”
Like Hares, thousands of Detroit area Muslims will try their best to observe Ramadan. Mass gatherings will be replaced with virtual ones, and many in the community will put in extra efforts to prepare and deliver Iftar meals to the elderly and those in need.
Hares said that during the last 10 days of Ramadan – the holiest period where Muslims believe that Allah revealed the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed – Imam Mohammed Almasmari arranges special study sessions with the teens at the mosque, complete with his specialty-brewed tea. They study and socialize and even sleepover in the mosque, have an early morning pre-sunrise breakfast, and then go home. This is something that her son Yusuf will especially miss, she said.
Still, MUC is planning to have zoom sessions over Ramadan. Also, the mosque is planning several charitable action events, such as preparing and delivering Iftar meals to seniors and first responders working on the front lines of the pandemic during the month.
For more information, visit the mosque’s website at https://muslimunitycenter.org/