Quarantine and Ramadan Share Some Commonalities

What we should realize is that was are being given the opportunity to once again care about each other. The higher cause is our humanity.

What we should realize is that was are being given the opportunity to once again care about each other. The higher cause is our humanity.

Ramadan begins at the end of April and as such it is my habit to start preparing a month ahead. I stock up on food staples, strengthen my immune system and start clearing my schedule. People also spring clean their homes because Ramadan is a time of receiving guests. This year I was motivated to start a bit early, but with a heavy heart.

The mosques are closed and probably will not reopen in time for Ramadan. For Muslims in the United States, Ramadan is the only time when we have the opportunity to see other Muslims on a regular basis. It is like cancelling Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. However, this year the entire world is joining us in this time of quarantine and social distancing. We will be alone, together.

Although Ramadan is a time of community, it also is a time of sequestered self-reflection. Traditionally the last ten days of Ramadan are spent alone. All other aspects of life are abandoned as you sit alone to reevaluate your life, reconnect with yourself, your community, and your Creator. And yes, contemplate the fragility of human existence. But somehow, it is an uplifting time of renewed intentions and energy.

Every year Ramadan requires Muslims to strip life down to the basic necessities and inspires a reevaluation of priorities to recognize what is truly important. In order for this to happen we need to step outside of our normal, everyday lives, because our impacted schedules seldom allow this to happen. Now, most of us are home or on the frontlines of this pandemic, but we are experiencing it together, reassessing what is important, contemplating mortality and the sweetness of life. In our solitude we are in solidarity, the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, LGBT, Republicans, refugees, Sikhs and Baha’is.

Amid this horrific tragedy that is continuing to unfold, we are collectively being asked to change our daily routine to self-quarantine to save lives, to save each other because in the end, what matters most, is us. There are some who continue to cavalierly dismiss this call to safeguard humanity but hopefully they too will understand that human life is important, or an enforced quarantine will keep them at home. 

Those of us at home are on social media and posts abound on how the skies are clearing of pollution and of dolphins playing in the clean waters of Venice’s canals. They aren’t true according to National Geographic, but we want to believe this because people are looking for hope. We want this catastrophe to be happening for some higher cause.

What we should realize is that was are being given the opportunity to once again care about each other. The higher cause is our humanity. Ramadan aims to awaken and refresh our humanity. During this disaster, there is an opportunity for collective change because we now know we can work together; we must work together if we want to survive.

Ramadan forces Muslims to curb their anger as part of the fast that lasts from sunrise to sunset. In essence, we have to be kinder and more considerate of other people because they are hungry, thirsty and a little tired. Today we all are under an enormous amount of stress and a little bit of kindness and consideration will go a long way.

There are several Americans who live in constant crisis. They continually experience food scarcity, lack of access to health care, education and have no savings account. Life is uncertain for these Americans and often precarious. It is a difficult situation to understand for those of us that never experienced it. A part of Ramadan is experiencing the hunger and thirst the poor feel so we can empathize with their daily struggle. Many of us are unable to flee to a safer place; we have a glimpse at what it is like to be a refugee, homeless, elderly or a single parent. Ramadan is also a reminder to take care of our elders and parents. We now know how it feels to be vulnerable, afraid and alone. I hope it makes us a little more compassionate. 

I hope we remember these lessons when the crisis ends. In sha Allah (God willing), as Muslims say, when the crisis is over, after we mourn the ones we lost, we will have a worldwide eid (celebration) and continue working together for the benefit of our planet and that another pandemic or global catastrophe is not required to awaken our humanity.



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