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Winnipeg’s Muslim community gets ready for virtual Ramadan during COVID-19 pandemic

Manitobans celebrating Ramadan a little differently this year
WATCH: With no sign of public health orders letting up anytime soon, Muslims in Manitoba will be observing Ramadan a little differently this year.

For Muslims around the world, the holiest month of the year starts Friday.

With physical distancing measures in effect due to COVID-19, however, and with mosques across Canada as well as in Winnipeg still closed, this year’s Ramadan prayers are moving to a virtual platform.

“We have launched [a] virtual mosque, and virtual Ramadan is part of that,” said vice-chair of the Manitoba Islamic Association, Tasneem Vali.

“We will be livestreaming on Facebook or we have a YouTube channel. Those are all on our website on our links, and the timing and the schedule.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Muslim community in London, Ont., to find creative ways to mark Ramadan

While participating in Ramadan, Muslims often time get together to pray at sunset and break their fast, also known as Iftaar.

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This year, Iftaar celebrations will have look different as no in-person gatherings are allowed.

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The Manitoba Islamic Association, meanwhile, is suggesting other ways people can stay connected.

“Instead of having your Iftaar party you could donate those funds to Winnipeg harvest,” Vali said.

“We are running food programs and hampers — there are many organizations that are helping the needy — or you could cook the food and deliver contactless delivery at loved ones’ doorsteps and have a virtual Iftaar.”

In past years, upwards of 300 people would gather at Winnipeg’s Grand Mosque each day of Ramadan to pray and break their fast together at sunset. The association is also trying to keep some traditions alive, while keeping physical distance.

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READ MORE: How coronavirus is forcing religious communities to adapt

“We’re going to actually offer a pickup service,” said chair of the Manitoba Islamic Association, Idris Elbakri. “So people will kind of just drive by, volunteers basically arranging for them to get a meal delivered to their car.”

For those members feeling disconnected and discouraged during these unprecedented times, Elbakri sharing some words of encouragement.

“One of the most important lessons of Ramadan is patience,” Elbakri said.  “So we’ve got to be patient with ourselves, we’ve got to be patient with our authorities. This is happening for our own good, for our own benefit, so we just have to take it one day at a time and try to get though it.

“This too shall pass.”

Ramadan commences Friday, April 24 and runs for 30 days.