Virtual event allows Muslim Calgarians to observe Ramadan

Quarantine has made it difficult for religious groups to gather, but virtual events are starting to bring people back together

Muslim Calgarians can still observe Ramadan in a virtual environment while coronavirus mass gathering rules are still in effect.

As COVID-19 initially spread, public health measures limited gatherings to 15 people or less – including religious services. That meant that Calgary’s Muslim community would have to find new ways of observing Ramadan.

Ramadan is a month-long Islamic commemoration of Muhammad’s first revelation celebrated through fasting, prayer, reflection and community.

Canada’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at has set up a virtual Ramadan event. Participants can observe Ramadan with surrounding communities and fellow Canadians, including here in Calgary.

Zaki Ahmad, spokesperson for the Calgary event, said it brings people together during a time when congregating isn’t permitted.

“We have a tradition of having a dinner in non-Covid times so what we are doing this time is having a virtual dinner to bring people together,” Ahmad said.

“Not just to bring the Muslim community together but other Calgarians together as well.”

Back in late April, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that this Ramadan would be like none experienced before.

“There will be no congregational prayer. There will be no ability to celebrate the Iftar, the breaking of the fast, with our friends and our extended family,” Nenshi said in the April 23 coronavirus briefing.

Calgary’s virtual Ramadan still allows the community to observe

The Virtual Ramadan Challenge allows individuals to give tips and information during these stressful times.

People are experiencing feelings of loneliness, discomfort and distress with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahmad said the virtual event will bring people together during a time where we cannot physically congregate.

“We are inviting all Calgarians of different religions and backgrounds to the event that is taking place this Saturday,” said Ahmad.

Mayor Nenshi said making this kind of sacrifice feels right to him.

“This year, that little bit of self-sacrifice, in addition to the sacrifices that we’re asking everyone to make, that sacrifice to stay home – that feels right to me,” Nenshi said.

“And it feels that during this month of prayer and of sacrifice together, Muslims can really help understand how those acts of sacrifice affect you very directly.”

Calgarians can participate in the live YouTube broadcast on May 9 at 6 p.m. The event will also feature messages from prominent leaders and politicians.

Family members that aren’t in Calgary can join the event on a date and time of whichever city they choose.

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