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KC Families Share How Ramadan Changed This Year ‘Hopeful despite fear and lack of freedom’

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Above image credit: Three families share their stories, struggles and lessons as they navigate one of the most important religious months, Ramadan, during a pandemic. (Hasan Almasi | Adobe)
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5 minute read

This year, like almost everything, Ramadan looks and feels different than in years past. 

At dusk on April 23, Muslims around the world and in Kansas City began the month-long spiritual practice of fasting. Every day, they refrain from eating, drinking and other activities from dawn to dusk. And once the sun sets, it’s time for iftar – the meal that breaks the fast. 

Odd-numbered nights during the last 10 days of Ramadan are religiously significant because they represent the nights of decree, power, value, destiny and measures. 

“It marks the night in which Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah. Muslims regard this as the most important event in history,” said Dr. Hibba Haider, who is the vice president of the Crescent Peace Society, an interfaith organization in Kansas City.

For the Muslim community, the month of Ramadan is one of the most important and social times of the year where families and friends meet to break the fast, pray together and do charity work. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, many have had to turn to virtual gatherings on FaceTime, Zoom and YouTube. 

In this special project, three households in the Kansas City area share, in their own voices, what they have been doing to observe the month-long practice of prayer, fasting and community while at home. 

Mahnaz Shabbir

Mahnaz Shabbir shares how the pandemic impacted the month of Ramadan
Mahnaz Shabbir shares how the pandemic impacted her in the month of Ramadan. (Cody Boston | Flatland)

Mahnaz Shabbir, a recent guest on The Filter podcast, has been doing virtual hangouts with her children and grandchildren, as well as virtual Ramadan with area residents. Shabbir is a consultant and adjunct at Avila University and has joined in on virtual Ramadan sessions and panel discussions, like this one:

Listen to her interview in the podcast episode here.

Aisha Sharif

Aisha Sharif, poet and lecturer, says Ramadan during a quarantine has been one of reflection. This year, she ordered decorations, focused on self-care and has made more time to teach her young children about Islam. 

Here’s her voice memo where she explains what spirituality and faith means to her:

Aisha Sharif also recites a poem she wrote during the lockdown.

“One positive (of the quarantine) is that it has allowed me to integrate more awareness of religion at home, which I realized I hadn’t been doing,” Kahn said in an interview. “In light of Ramadan, and taking care of others, I am actually an introverted person so I’ve been giving myself grace. I’ve been more focused on the internal.”

Hibba Haider

Hibba Haider, a pediatrician with the Health Partnership Clinic and vice president of the Crescent Peace Society, has had to juggle being a worker in the medical field in the midst of the pandemic. Haider shared her personal thoughts on what this time has felt like for her and the lessons learned so far in this voice memo:

“This COVID-19 lockdown has taught my children life-lasting lessons that no other schooling experience can offer,” Hibba Haider says.
  • Haider family during iftar
  • Haider's iftar meal
  • Hibba Haider and her two daughters

Haider’s two daughters also participated in this project, sharing how they are feeling unable to participate in the long-held traditions they’ve engaged in every year. 

The eldest daughter, Zoha Haider, is 16 years old. Listen to what life is like for her here:

Listen to Zoha’s take on the virus’s impact on her life as a 16-year-old Muslim.

The youngest daughter,  Zaina Haider, is 11 years old. She shared a short video of what she misses most:

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