Muslims find new ways to observe Ramadan with Illinois' 'stay-at-home' order in place

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With many places of worship closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Muslims are observing Ramadan differently this year.

Thursday marks the start of the holy month of Ramadan, a time for fasting, prayer, charity and community feasts at sunset.

"We are all in this together," said Saba Khawaja. "It's impacting everyone, our kids, our family. We just have to make the best of this."

Asra Farooq said her family is making care packages for their neighbors, since they're unable to help out at the mosque like they usually do.

Some mosques and Muslim organizations are taking their programming online. But for others, it's just not the same.

"It is preferred to just do things together with your family and the people around you, instead of doing things virtual," said Imam Ibrahim Khader, of the Muslim Community Center in Chicago.

Khader said there are lessons to be learned during this period, when mosques are closed and a "stay-at-home" order is in place.

"As Muslims, our relationship with God isn't contingent where we are, who's around or who's looking at us," Khader said. "So perhaps in the time of quarantine, it is actually where we can learn to be independent with our relationship of God."

While Farooq finds creative ways to give back to her community following social distancing guidelines, her husband will continue to serve others as a doctor treating COVID-19 patients during Ramadan.

"It feels like such a great opportunity for him to practice his faith even further," she said. "While everyone else is social distancing and able to stay at home and protect themselves, he feels like he's able to go out and help others and be of service."
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