Maimoona Harrington tasting dates at a market/Contributed

A date with Ramadan

A date with Ramadan

By Maimoona Harrington

April 2 marks the beginning of Ramadan in the United States. Once again Muslims across the globe will abstain from eating and drinking for 29 to 30 days depending on the lunar calendar. They will enthusiastically attend Islamic centers, mosques, religious gatherings and community iftars.

Breaking the fast with a date is a tradition that is rooted deep in the religious teachings of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. On my Umrah (minor pilgrim) trip I visited the Medinat-ul-Munawarah date market in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The pandemic challenged all faiths, their practices, services and rituals. Similarly, Islam was also challenged. These challenges were deeply felt during the last two Ramadan’s. New traditions were made, and new practices were followed for the rituals. Now as this year’s Ramadan approaches there is an excitement and hope within the Muslim communities to go back to the old traditions. So far it looks like we will go back to the old ways, yet we are also prepared to embrace any change if required.

The pandemic showed us that nothing is constant, and change is imminent. We should always be ready to adapt and find ways to tackle new changes in life.

For the Muslims living in the West, their local Islamic centers play a vital role in connecting them with their faith and providing them with a platform to attend religious services. On a personal level it was deeply disheartening for me as I could not feel the essence of Ramadan at its fullest along with my fellow Muslims at my Islamic center. Attending services together brings out the feeling of unity and servitude.

Ramadan is a month of spiritual activism when devotees try to awaken their spirituality. It is a scheme to improve human beings. The month of Ramadan is, in fact, the month of purification of the soul. This month demands that man reassesses his life; that he reviews all his affairs; that he replans his religious and dawah life; that he purifies his heart and mind; that he builds a new personality within himself. In this way, he should totally overhaul himself in every religious and spiritual respect.

Maula Wahiduddin Khan (Late), An Islamic spiritual scholar

I conducted a survey to see how many Islamic centers across America are easing up on their COVID-19 protocols. The responses that I received clearly showed that most Islamic centers are easing up their restrictions. Most have already ended social distancing for congregational prayers. Masks are optional. Most all are prepared to welcome their congregations for services and community events during this holy month. It is precisely because the COVID rates are falling low, mask mandates are easing up, things start to look hopeful. My local Islamic centers are also ending protocols like social distancing during congregational prayers and continuation of use of masks is recommended but not required. They are also working on providing online opportunities to those who still do not feel comfortable or are vulnerable, so they feel connected with their Islamic centers and communities. 

On a personal level, I am excited to get back to my Islamic center for daily Ramadan congregational prayers. The last two years are a great reminder for us to not take anything for granted. Something as simple as praying together was not possible and now when we return to normalcy, we should appreciate it more than ever. Overall Muslims across America are reviving to rejoice in the festivities of Ramadan.

About Maimoona Harrington

Maimoona Harrington was born and raised in Pakistan moved to the United States with her family in 2008. She is married and a mother of two sons. She has a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies and sociology from Pakistan and a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from United States. Along with her career as an interpreter, translator and monitor she is also an Islamic and Pakistani Culture Adviser.

As a practicing Muslim with the extensive world travel and living in the West, she has devoted herself to spread awareness of Islam as a goodwill gesture. In an effort to do this she started writing from her own personal experiences with religion, beliefs and life in a different culture. She also has special interest in all the religions and how and why they are all important to its followers. Her primary focus is on the co-existence and harmony between all human beings. Her message is to spread peace not division. She strongly believes that if you want to be closer to your creator then love His creation unconditionally and expect nothing in return for He loves us unconditionally and forgives us no matter how sinful we are!

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