COVID-19 affects Muslims celebrating Ramadan and Eid in Pickering, Ont.

COVID-19 affects Muslims celebrating Ramadan and Eid
WATCH: Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community for Muslims around the world, including those in Pickering, Ont.

Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community for Muslims around the world, including those in Pickering, Ont.

Self-isolation and day-to-day routines being thrown off by lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic have had an impact. Public safety measures to curb the spread of the deadly virus forced places of worship to close their doors.

“The mosque is filled daily for hours after sunset,” said Imam Abdulmannan Mulla, Pickering Islamic Centre of normal Ramadan observance.¬†But that’s not the case this year.

Imam Mulla is praying alone inside the Pickering Islamic Centre.

“The mosques are closed but our worship, our services are online now,” he said.

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Imam Mulla has been at the Pickering Mosque for the past five years.

During Ramadan he says hundreds of people funnel in and out daily but because of the pandemic, this year has been more of a test.

“It’s a lot of sacrifice, we are struggling with the fast and the long days but it’s something we really look forward to because of the family gatherings, the community comes together to pray. People who find it difficult to come to the mosque throughout the year make extra effort to come to the mosque,” said Mulla.

Ramadan under lockdown
Ramadan under lockdown

“Our mobility is restricted, no doubt about it, but not our spirituality,” said Javed Akbar, who has been spending Ramadan with his family, including his son Nabeel.

“Even though we’re at home, we are keeping ourselves busy, we’re keeping ourselves engaged with other things, like I’m fond of reading and a bit of writing,” said Javed.

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Nabeel says he is used to working during Ramadan, but is at home because of the pandemic. He says he misses the ritual of the celebration, saying the mosque is more than just bricks and mortar.

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“Just the people that you’re missing because it’s a time when you’re seeing so many people, the mosques are full every night,” said Nabeel.

As for Imam Mulla, he’s not sure when the mosque will reopen, but he says he will continue to pray for humanity.

“On a daily basis throughout the day, especially at night [during] long prayer vigils, praying for the community, praying for Canada, the world, for the alleviation of this pandemic and especially the front-line workers,” said Mulla.
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Ramadan comes to an end this weekend.

While the Pickering Islamic Centre would be a hub of activity celebrating Eid, Muslims will be breaking the fast with those closest to them at home, with the hope that they will be back at the mosque soon.