Observed by Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan sets forth a month of fasting, spiritual reflection and personal growth. Muslims are intrinsically joined together by group prayers, shared meals and charitable activities, propelling the meaning of Ramadan through connectedness. Exemplifying this connectedness is Dearborn, Mich., one of the largest Muslim communities in the U.S.
Encapsulating the unique experience that is Ramadan in Dearborn is difficult; in broadest terms, Dearborn becomes its most vibrant version of itself showcasing diversity and connectedness. Restaurants extend their hours (some even until 5 a.m.), mosques become filled with people praying and socializing, young entrepreneurs open food stands, community members rally together for charitable causes and gratitude becomes inherent.
When asked what motivated him to start a food stand during last Ramadan, Business sophomore Adam Bazzi responded, “Growing up in Dearborn, I’ve had the luxury of being able to enjoy Ramadan in a way that not many other Muslims around the country can say they have, and what really drove us to open our stand was to add to that uniqueness through connecting our community in a meaningful way.”
With social distancing in full effect, the Dearborn community will have to redefine what community connectedness means during this unprecedented Ramadan.
“Community connectedness will no longer exist through shared meals, bonfires, festivals and food stands, but come from the fact that we will be social distancing and fasting together,” LSA senior Silan Fadlallah said.
Last Ramadan, more than 12,000 people attended the annual Ramadan Suhoor Festival, which was created by community members to combine Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal Muslims have each day before fasting, with charity. Social distancing has canceled the community gathering component of the Ramadan Suhoor Festival but their pillar of charity lives on through their current work. Currently, the organizers of the festival are utilizing their platform to gather donations for N95 face masks for local hospitals and funeral homes in Dearborn. More than 1,200 masks will be distributed this upcoming week. Hassan Chami, founder of the Ramadan Suhoor Festival, wants to inspire community members to invest in their spirituality.
“Ramadan will definitely be different this year, and will be one to remember. With Ramadan approaching us during these uncommon times, God has created a platform for us to build a stronger and more spiritual relationship with him by limiting our normal worldly distractions,” Chami said. “For this reason, I hope to take advantage of this Ramadan as we don’t know if we’ll ever have a time like this again.”
With a new definition of community connectedness, there comes the question, “Where are Muslims left spiritually?” LSA freshman Noor Moughni, a columnist on Michigan in Color, reflected on how she will continue her spiritual journey while social distancing.
“The time I would’ve spent waiting in line at Bohemian Bowls, bonding with others over how amazing the almond butter there is, I will now spend on my prayer rug, exploring my spirituality and the complexities of faith,” Moughni said. “Ramadan this year will be my time to realign my beliefs. A time to escape the confusion of the world and confide in God. I look forward to a month devoted to reflection and self-improvement. I look forward to an isolated Ramadan.”
Dearborn’s experience with this year’s Ramadan is a microcosm of what the greater Muslim world will be facing. Despite the community isolation Muslims worldwide will experience, the true essence of Ramadan will prevail: A reminder to Muslims that all is temporary and that faith transcends all adversities — even a global pandemic. Muslims will be able to experience spirituality in its truest form: isolated.