Ramadan goes digital amid pandemic

Published: Apr. 23, 2020 at 7:27 PM EDT
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The holy month of Ramadan begins tonight at sundown. Like everything else, it is different this year because of COVID-19.

The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo is preparing for a month of praying and fasting. They're also embracing adjustments necessary to protect people from the coronavirus.

Ahmad Deeb is the Imam at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. Today he has a full belly but tomorrow...

"Muslims all over the world fast for 30 days," Deeb says.

The experience is personal - a lesson in self-control and connection to God.

"You start accessing sides of yourself emotionally and spiritually that you don't really experience when you're snacking all the time," says Deeb.

But it's also social.

"Ramadan is an incredibly communal event," says Deeb.

Muslims must fast for 30 days from sun up to sun down, but after that, the gather for prayers and food. COVID-19 has put a damper on this year's gatherings.

"For many it will be difficult," says Deeb.

But Imam Deeb says this will not deter Muslims from learning and growing.

"Religion isn't confined to one institutional space," says Deeb.

For the social aspect, they're embracing online platforms with pre-recorded prayers, readings, and spiritual discussions.

"Every single night we're at least seeing each other," says Deeb.

And they're making sure that anyone can join.

Some stuff is going to be on YouTube, Facebook live, Zoom. We're trying to be accessible to all platforms and to all those in our community," says Deeb.

Although coronavirus has forced us all apart, the Islamic Center is reminding us that we don't have to feel alone.