Ramadan, a month-long Islamic holiday filled with worship, spirituality, and connectivity, is known to bring families and friends together. Due to the pandemic, though, many who celebrate this holiday have had to do so alone.
Minnesota State University, Mankato junior Al Sultan (who asked that his full name not be published) noted how different the past two years have been compared to years prior.
“We would break our fast together with our families, but these past two years it’s either by yourself or with some friends,” Al Sultan stated. “It’s a different environment spiritually when you’re alone.”
Al Sultan said that while he isn’t able to spend this time with his family, he’s lucky to have a solid group of friends to celebrate and eat with.
MNSU graduate student Ahmed Sadek experienced similar feelings of being alone during a holiday where people are supposed to gather together.
“COVID kept us from being together, as everyone was sheltered in their home last year. Nobody wanted to risk getting sick,” he said. “This year, though, there are some socially distanced group prayers being held outside, which has helped some.”
Even in a time of loneliness, the two students have been able to find a community to gather with and find support within.
Al Sultan found his support through multiple sources.
“Most people struggle with finding a good support system, and it would be easier if you had your family,” he said. “But the Muslim community here in Mankato is always there to help out when it’s needed. I’m also able to receive support from my friends, and we’ll sometimes gather together when it’s safe.”
Similar to this, Sadek said he has found people to connect with to help celebrate Ramadan in a pandemic easier.
“Coming to a new place is usually hard, but it’s easy to meet other Musilms and connect with them.” Sadek added on, “Some local restaurants will also help and give out free meals to students.”
Looking to the future, both Al Sultan and Sadek are hopeful for a regular, in-person celebration next Ramadan.
“I’m trusting that next year will be different and we can get out of the bubble we’ve created to be safe. After two years, you begin to miss the old ways of celebrating and coming together,” Al Sultan expressed.
Sadek added on, “The pandemic is still affecting everyone. I’m sure people miss their family during this time, but we need to be smart and not risk your own health or other people’s health.”