April 23, 2020
Today, Muslims in New York and around the world mark the first day of Ramadan. On behalf of everyone at the Arab-American Family Support Center, we wish all who are celebrating a blessed and peaceful month!
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and is regarded as an extremely special annual observance that involves abstaining from food and water from sunrise to sunset as a personal spiritual journey to strengthen one’s piety. The month begins with the sighting of the new moon and falls about 10-11 days earlier each year. This year, Ramadan began on the evening of April 23 and will conclude on May 23 with Eid al-Fitr. When the moon is first sighted, it is a joyous occasion marked by family and friends contacting and greeting each another by saying “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem”, which translates to “have a blessed and generous month of Ramadan”.
This month, the Muslim community traditionally partakes in uplifting communal activities, including group prayers, the sharing of a blessed meal (iftar) with family and friends after fasting, and deep religious reflection and spiritual connectedness with loved ones. As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessitates social distancing, we are lifting our entire community up during this unprecedented time with love and solidarity.
PHOTO: AAFSC’s 2019 Community Iftar in Brooklyn
We all know what it feels like to shift our day-to-day lives in response to this crisis. For Muslims, COVID-19 means making difficult changes to Ramadan to adapt to these new circumstances. Many masjids and Islamic centers are already closed indefinitely to prevent the spread of the virus, and religious leaders in the community have called on the Muslim community to practice social distancing directives and engage in group prayers within their own households only. Furthermore, AAFSC will not be hosting Iftar dinners as we have done previously. We will be focusing on distributing emergency assistance to those that are in need—no matter their background or faith. It is in the spirit of all faiths that a fellow community member in need deserves our charitable contribution and support.
Now more than ever, it is important for us all to embody the values at the heart of Ramadan – generosity, compassion, hope, and service to others. By standing together during this frightening time and holding these values close to us, we will come out stronger and more resilient than ever before.
We wish all who are celebrating a warm, comfortable, and healthy month!