Despite the pandemic having Muslims celebrate Ramadan virtually this year, two Timmins families could still feel the holiday spirit.
For Moustapha Kori Mbami, spending Ramadan at home was special as his family spent a lot of time reading the Quran and video calling extended family members.
Celebrating the holiday virtually also created a special bond between them and other members of the Muslim community.
“(We) don’t go out that much. We don’t go to the mosque that much, so we kept in touch with a lot of phone calls, a lot of video calls. That was something special,” Kori Mbami said.
“Yes, we did it before. But this time we reached out to almost every single person in our family and other people, too. That brought almost everything together.”
For Kori Mbami, the last 10 days of the fasting month were also hard because he lost his father two weeks ago.
“It was a sad time but we took advantage of reading a lot of the Quran,” he said.
Last weekend, Timmins Muslims celebrated Eid al-Fitr marking the end of the fasting month Ramadan.
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims across the world abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. In addition to fasting, they spend time praying, reading the Quran and doing charitable work.
Because of COVID-19, it was the first time local families observed it at home rather than gathering at the mosque for prayers and evening meals.
Although there’ve been some challenges like not being able to celebrate together, Ramadan this year provided a chance to learn how to be patient and focus on spending more time with the families, said Waleed Zahra, a board member of the Timmins Islamic Centre.
During Ramadan, his family attended online lectures by the Islamic Society of North America, went for daily walks and taught the children the Quran. Zahra said his family, as well as other Muslim families in Timmins, also made donations to the Islamic Relief Canada and to the Muslim Association of Canada.
For Eid al-Fitr, Zahra’s family couldn’t invite anybody home for prayers and meals, so the holiday feeling was a bit different this year.
“It was a big effect on the feeling about the month, about the Eid, like we miss a lot,” Zahra said. “The way we communicated was not the same if it were a physical attendance to enjoy it together.”
“We missed not being able to see (my parents) during the Eid and Ramadan because of the virus,” said Ola Zeidan, Zahra's wife. “That kind of made it a little bit sad for us because usually in Eid we all see each other. The whole family gets together, we go out. So that’s something we definitely missed a lot this year.”
However, Zahra and Zeidan made sure their two boys, Ahmed and Ali, could still feel the holiday spirit by decorating the house, bringing the kids some toys and making a cake and cookies in a dinosaur theme.
Zeidan said although Ramadan was different, she enjoyed it because she spent more time at home with her children and learned more about Ramadan and Eid than they did in previous years.