Baltimore Muslim Community Thankful for Drive-Thru Iftar

A community iftar at the time of coronavirus looks a bit different.

Instead of colorful public iftar gatherings, the Muslim community in Baltimore line up in their cars in front of the mosque to get their boxed meals to take home with families.  

“It’s amazing to see these wonderful faces again — all without using Zoom,” Shaista Mohammed, who helps lead a team of female volunteers in handing out meals at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, told The Union Democrat.

On Wednesday’s event, drivers and passengers move forward to the entrance of the mosque to get their meals. No one seems put out by the unusual arrangement.

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“Ramadan? I see it as a time to stay away from sin, reconnect with where you come from, and purify your soul,” Anam Vahora, 17, a high school student from Ellicott City, says through a rolled-down window. “And one thing Ramadan teaches is patience.”

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Hijri Islamic calendar. It commemorates the first revelation of the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad.

From dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations).

COVID Restrictions

The suspension of community iftar is not the only effect covid-19 is having on Muslims’ Ramadan in Baltimore.

With social distancing guidelines, the Islamic Society of Baltimore’s in-person worship has been cut from 2,000 people to 160.

Worshippers are required to undergo temperature checks, wear masks and bring prayer rugs (the mosque provides wax paper for those who forget). A massive plastic tarp covers the floors.

“When you’re used to praying shoulder-to-shoulder with other people, as we do in Islam, and you move with them in all the same motions, there’s just something powerful about that that is still not quite there,” mosque president Ed Tori says.

Despite of the restrictions, many are still grateful for the opportunity to have a chance to meet the community.

“Things still feel different because of COVID, but people are glad to see each other,” Kenny Majinnasola, a Nigeria-born social worker and longtime member of the mosque.