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COVID-19: Calgary Muslims Anticipate Very Special Ramadan

Ramadan is a time for contemplation, worshipping, giving and sharing.

Two weeks ahead of the Muslims’ most holy month, Muslims are facing unprecedented restrictions and the prospect of worship in isolation in the shadow of the COVID19 outbreak.

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Families staying at home will not be able to perform taraweeh prayers or join their families for large Ramadan iftars.

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However, Calgary Muslims believe it could be more meaningful than ever to devotees.

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“Due to social distancing we won’t be congregating in our mosques, there’ll be no community dinners but it will give us an opportunity to engage in self-discovery,” said Sheikh Fayaz Tilly, senior imam at Calgary’s Akram Jomaa Islamic Center, CBC reported.

“Perhaps this Ramadan will be a great Ramadan despite not being able to connect physically. Our bodies may not be in the same space but our hearts can be in the same space,” said Tilly.

“We can do that by praying for each other, by praying for our front-line workers and assisting those on the front lines like medical doctors or people stacking shelves and cashiers.

“Maybe it will be a month to remember when we engage in the true spirit of Ramadan: sacrifice, not having the extravagant meals, and a focus on family,” he said.

Spirit of Giving

Calgary Muslims believe that this Ramadan presents a unique opportunity to step up more than ever and help the community.

“With the pandemic this year, it seems different,” said Riyaz Khawaja, president of the Hussaini Association of Calgary, the main Shiite Islamic organization in the city.

“We all feel it will be challenging but we have always found ways to continue to observe at times of crisis and it can actually be an opportunity to assess what is important in life,” said Khawaja.

“Congregation prayers and eating together, that part we’ll be missing, but it’s going to be better to observe ourselves and be more spiritual in these hard times,” he said.

Calgary’s Ahmadiyya said they will focus more on the family.

“Prayer can be done at home. We should follow the laws set out by the government in order to flatten the curve,” said Asif Arif, a Baitun Nur mosque imam.

“It will be more family-oriented,” he said. “We have to look at the safety of the individual.”

As of Thursday, April 9, the COVID-19 pandemic has infected 1 1,541,744 and killed around 90,095 people, according to the latest estimates by WorldOMeter.

Canada is grappling with over 19,000 confirmed cases of the new virus. The country has reported 462 deaths so far.