As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close for Muslims this Sunday, a Riverside mosque continues to adapt to keep the community safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community for Muslims, is usually a time of large gatherings and shared meals. Instead, like all other religious groups, the Islamic Center of Riverside had to adjust to COVID-19 restrictions.
"It feels really strange and awkward. Nobody imagined this sort of thing could happen.”
That’s Dr. Sadrul Ula, the center’s chairman of the board of directors. He says when it came time to close the mosque due to the shutdown, he had to remind people that even Mecca, one of Islam’s holiest sites, was closed during Ramadan.
“In my lifetime, I’ve never seen Eid gatherings cancelled,” said Ula.
Eid, the final fast-breaking meal, is usually an hours long celebration where the center hosts the community in their courtyard and children receive gifts and play in a bounce house. Instead, this Sunday the Eid sermon will be broadcast online and families will celebrate individually. Ula will be using WhatsApp to check in on family and his wife mailed gifts to their grandchildren.
The mosque also modified their charitable activities throughout Ramadan. They set up a drive through in their parking lot to provide thousands of suhoors, pre-fast breakfasts, and iftars, post fast dinners. They also organized emergency food distributions, delivered financial support to 50 families and before Ramadan took a day in April to provide meals to Riverside Community Hospital.
“We have been blessed with the support of the greater community and other faith organizations churches and synagogues,” said Ula.
Even the mayor and police have called to check in. He keeps thinking, maybe two more weeks and then it will be safe to reopen again. He like so many is looking forward to that day.