Across the world, Muslims are having to celebrate Ramadan differently during the coronavirus pandemic ( Reuters )
These days, my house in Houston, Texas is more like a zoo. My husband and I, and our two kids, are spending quality time with each other 24/7 and it’s not going too well. Right now, for instance, the kids are screaming about Zoom not working, while I scream back at them to be quiet because I have important things to write. I’m an author of children’s books, and quiet solitude is literally a requirement for the creative juices to flow.
Unfortunately, I have no creative juices left, thanks to the pandemic that plagues us all, if not physically then emotionally. I’m in the league of American mothers who are trying to balance an incredibly difficult load of work that we’d never planned on. Working from home, because deadlines to my publishers are coming up fast. Sharing a little home office with my husband, where our chairs rattle against each other in the most annoying way if one of us tries to shift positions. Teaching algebra and science, and figuring out what to submit for an art competition that the school is still holding even in the midst of all this chaos. Cooking all the time, only to hear my kids complain about why we’re having Pakistani food again? And my God, why are there so many dishes?
And now, there’s Ramadan. Each year, I look forward to Ramadan because it’s a month of peaceful connection with the Almighty. It’s a month that’s sacred to Muslims all over the world, one where we fast every day from dawn to dusk, if we are healthy. As a Muslim American immigrant raising first-generation American kids, I’ve always found Ramadan to be a way to infuse my traditions and values into my kids. We pray together as a family, and then visit the mosque nearby for breaking the fast with our friends.
Not this year, of course. This year belongs to the coronavirus, and Ramadan is suffering just like every other religious and cultural observance. Although fasting sounds like a solitary exercise, it’s actually quite the opposite. We tend to fast individually, but in a community environment as much as possibleonth, full of key ideas like peace and reflection and prayer.