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Social Distancing Changes How Muslims Observe Ramadan

Islamic Center of Virginia in North Chesterfield
Due to statewide restrictions on large gatherings and social distancing guidelines, the Islamic Center of Virginia cancelled all in-person activities a few weeks ago. Services are being streamed online. (Photo: Islamic Center of Virginia)

Richmond’s Muslim community, like those all over the world, began observing Ramadan this week.  It is a month-long time of fasting, prayer, reflection and community gatherings. But the pandemic has caused some changes.

Muslims traditionally fast during daylight hours to commemorate God and practice patience.  At night, the community comes together.  But, because of statewide restrictions on gatherings larger than 10 people and social distancing guidelines, the Islamic Center of  Virginia in North Chesterfield has suspended activities for weeks.

"There is a real hole in our daily lives which we are not able to fill simply sitting alone in the home," Imam Ammar Amonette, of the Islamic Center of Virginia, said. "We as Muslims and people of all faith are going to get through this, and we may find we benefit in surprising ways." 

Amonette adds people are naturally lonely and isolated, but Ramadan is still a time to think of others.

"It’s a time that we give to charity and help the poor and needy," he said. 

The mosque is live streaming services and recitations of the Quran daily. They’re encouraging the community to use the time alone for prayer and reflection.

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