The COVID-19 has definitely brought about major changes in how people exercise religion and express faith.
Many mosques and other houses of worship got locked down due to the pandemic.
However, in Ohio, the Noor Islamic Cultural Center has welcomed worshippers again after five months of virtual services.
“We couldn’t actually accept anyone in the mosque here,” Imam Abdel Moneim told WOSU Public Media.
“But I was praying in the mosque here, and we were trying to put it online so people could follow us.”
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Noor Islamic Cultural Center is the largest mosque in Central Ohio. It used to host up to 800 worshippers before the pandemic.
Now, only 150 can pray together inside the building as yellow tapes mark six feet of distance between people.
“I think we have 100 or 150 people only with six feet of distance, 150 max,” interim director Azhar Masood said.
Though Ohio Governor Mike DeWine did not order places of worship to close their doors when the pandemic hit, the mosque and other places of worship shut their doors voluntarily.
“It did help a little bit, but it’s not the same at all. So that was tough to practice your prayers.”
As they return to normalcy, Masood hopes the pandemic ends soon after being hit with budget problems due to difference between pre- and post-pandemic donations.
“It was anywhere from $10-12,000 a month kind of thing, it went to less than $2,000 or $3,000,” Masood says. “You can see the huge difference we had.”
Visitors like Asma Mostafa are also relieved for the opportunity to pray in the mosque again.
“Zoom did not replace being here physically in the center during that time,” Mostafa says.
The number of Muslims in Columbus, Ohio, has been growing significantly recently, with many seeing this having great and positive impact on the economy.
The Pew Research Center estimated in 2017 that 3.45 million Muslims were living in the United States, up from 2.35 million in 2007.
In the country, and in Ohio, Muslims make up about 1% of the population, according to a 2014 Pew study.