Staff member from Kaufman Interfaith Institute reflects on start of Ramadan during COVID-19

headshot: Zahabia Ahmed-Usmani
Zahabia Ahmed-Usmani, project coordinator for the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, wrote about how COVID-19 impacts the start of Ramadan.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

Zahabia Ahmed-Usmani, project coordinator for the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, wrote about how COVID-19 impacts the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, in a recent "Interfaith Inform" column.

Ramadan began on April 23. Ahmed-Usmani said while fasting and praying throughout Ramadan are very personal practices, there is a large community aspect to the month that will have to be adapted due to social distancing guidelines. 

"I suggested to my friends that we continue to meet occasionally and drive to a parking lot," she said. "We have Zoom calls with extended family and find ways to make it communal."

Ahmed-Usmani, who lives in Zeeland, said many of her friends are physicians or needed as essential workers now. In fact, Ahmed-Usmani said the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding reported Muslims represent 3 percent of Michigan's population but are 15 percent of the state's physicians.

"My friends who are in the health care industry are exposed to the virus right now, so are very much practicing isolation and other safeguards," she said.

The end of Ramadan traditionally brings a feast, Eid. In Ahmed-Usmani's family, it also means a celebration for the three kids, who range from 9-17, and their friends. What had been a trip to Craig's Cruisers or another local attraction, and a feast with family and friends may look different in May, she said.

Ahmed-Usmani wrote, "Fortunately, this time gives us the opportunity to focus on the spiritual gifts of Ramadan. Re-centering our schedules, mindset and practices will guide us through this crisis."

Read more of Ahmed-Usmani's column here.