Chicago Muslims observe another Ramadan during COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order last year went into effect just a month before Ramadan. This year there are fewer restrictions in place but concerns about the spread of covid-19 remain.

"Last year the pandemic when it started about a month before Ramadan, everything was shut down. It was a Ramadan like no other," said Khaled Abughazaleh, a congregant at the Downtown Islamic Center.

The doors at the DIC on State Street in the Loop are back open for the holy month.

"It feels great to be back and spend our time in prayers," said Adnan Shafi, a congregant at the Downtown Islamic Center.

"We all get to nourish our souls," said Maqsood Quadri, the board chairman of the Downtown Islamic Center.

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Ramadan is marked with longer prayers, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts with family and friends.

This year the mosque is operating at reduced capacity.

"We are actually trying to get people in but also get them out of the mosque, so the are only here for what is necessary,"said Salman Azam, an executive board member of the Downtown Islamic Center.

Congregants have to reserve a spot to attend a prayer. They also have to get their temperature checked at the door. Instead of being shoulder to shoulder, they have to spread out inside.

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"We had to get together as a board and balance letting people back into the mosque so they can fulfill their duties in this blessed month, but also keeping their safety and health in question," Azam said.

Getting accustomed to the changes is taking time, but many are thankful to be able to observe Ramadan with others even if it's at a distance.

"Ramadan amongst many things is to become closer to God and you can't become closer to God than coming to his house," Azam said.
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