How DC-area Muslims are observing Ramadan amid a pandemic

As Muslims around the world begin to observe the holy month of Ramadan, many in the D.C. area are adapting to social distancing measures that are impacting what is usually a time marked with more communal gatherings.

And with area mosques closed, prayers and services have moved online.

“Our thoughts and our prayers are for everyone, for their safety, for their health,” said Rizwan Jaka, chair of the board at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society of Sterling, Virginia, one of the region’s largest mosques. “We are all virtual, staying socially distant, keeping everyone safe and healthy.”

The ADAMS Center, and its 11 branches and satellites, closed March 12. All programs, prayers and services are online through digital conferencing platforms.

“People still miss being in person at the mosques or at the various events, but for now, we encourage patience and prayer,” Jaka said. “We are going to start having Quranic recitations online, and then people will obviously break their fast at home.”

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During Ramadan, observing Muslims avoid eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. And as they seek to become closer to God, they’re also expected to be charitable, to pray and to recite from the Quran. It’s also an important month for the faithful to get closer to their communities.

The meals at sunset, known as iftars, are a time to break the daily fast, often in a communal setting. The evening prayers are also usually performed together at a mosque.

But Jaka urged Muslims to maintain patience during the stay-at-home restrictions, which continue to upend people’s lives for a second month.

“One of the Islamic rulings in Islamic law says protection of life is of the utmost concern and so, everyone staying home, you’re doing your part … Ramadan is a part of exercising patience … you’re supposed to work to encourage even more patience,” Jaka said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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