US Muslim groups urge health precautions for Ramadan

US Muslim groups urge health precautions for Ramadan
As Islam's holy month of Ramadan approaches, Muslim organisations have urged Muslims to exercise caution as the pandemic remains a threat.
3 min read
08 April, 2021
Worshippers in Wheaton, Illinois participate in evening prayer during Ramadan in April 2020 [Getty]
Washington DC, The New Arab - As Islam's holy month of Ramadan approaches, Muslims are being asked to continue exercising caution when practicing their annual traditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic is not fully under control. It’s that feeling that needs to be tempered. We want to prevent a premature celebration,” Hasan Shanawani, a pulmonologist who has treated hundreds of Covid-19 patients where he lives in Michigan, told The New Arab.

Shanawani is also president of the American Muslim Health Professionals and is in the executive committee of the National Muslim Task Force on Covid-19.

Earlier this week the organizations, in coordination with the National Black Muslim COVID Coalition, issued a statement urging Muslims to maintain caution during Ramadan and to get vaccinated as soon as possible, noting that taking a vaccine is not considered a violation of fasting. They will be holding a webinar on Thursday.

“We want people to be protected. One of the most important paths is vaccination,” said Shahanawi. “You don’t have to wait until after Ramadan.”

“We want Muslims to have a trusted public health resource," he added.

Shahanawi acknowledged that for many people, staying away from their mosque can be difficult, particularly for those who live alone or who work long hours. However, he emphasized that staying vigilant should be the priority.

Shahanawi also spoke of the emotional toll that long-term isolation has taken on people, including himself, noting a recent occasion he had to interact with people through Covid-related volunteer work.

“I was recently volunteering at a Covid vaccine site. It was fulfilling, but it was also social. There were people there I hadn’t seen in a year,” he said.

“If people want to get back to their old lives, they need patience. With patience, better days will come,” he continued.

Amjad Taufique, a board member of the West Cobb Islamic Center in Georgia, told The New Arab that despite the state having almost completely opened up, he and his community continue to exercise caution.

“We’re trying to not give anyone the opportunity to gather,” he said.

The Islamic Center, which during Ramadan would normally be a space for gatherings, festivities and feasts, will this year be used as a vaccination site.

For Shaykh Ibad Wali, executive director of the Hillside Islamic Center in New York, taking health precautions is part of the Muslim faith.

“That’s grounded in the essence of Ramadan. It’s a month of reflection,” he told The New Arab. “Safety is the priority.”

Brooke Anderson is The New Arab's correspondent in Washington D.C., covering US and international politics, business and culture.

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