Ramadan struggles to be celebrated

During the month-long celebration of Ramadan, Diamond Bar High School juniors Zaina Al Gahfir and Abed Bouidani can usually be found feasting with friends and family before sunrise and after sunset. Due to the current climate of the coronavirus pandemic, however, Muslims like Al Gahfir and Bouidani have to honor the holiday without company.

“Ramadan is a time where I focus on renewing myself and getting better and closer to family and friends,” Al Gahfir said via Instagram.

According to the WorldAtlas website, California has 246 mosques that are usually filled  at this time, yet  all mosques have been closed and are no longer available for Muslims to worship during Ramadan.

“We usually go to the mosque every night to pray and have parties with friends but can’t because of corona [virus],” Bouidani said via Instagram.

Ramadan teaches Muslims the importance of self-discipline through intermittent fasting, where they are only allowed to eat when the sun is down. Being in the comfort of her home, Al Gahfir has found fasting easier this year.

“It is hard to not eat but it’s easier now because I am just at home,” Al Gahfir said. 

Although the elderly are not required to fast during this time, they still value this tradition. Al Gahfir mentioned the lack of togetherness and tradition has had an impact on her ederly family members because they grew up celebrating the holiday.

“The older people in my family are also disappointed that we have to break traditions due to quarantine,” she said.

This change to tradition also has an effect on small restaurants that usually thrive during Ramadan. According to The Orange County Register, Little Arabia Lebanese Bakery and Cuisine in Anaheim usually accumulates eight months worth of profit during this month, but won’t this year due to the statewide stay-at-home order.

“My family usually meets at restaurants once or twice during Ramadan,” senior Muslim Student Association co-president Salma Rashad said. “This year, we ordered takeout from some of our favorite places.”

Small restaurants aren’t the only businesses suffering; fashion and luxury brands are also struggling  as  Ramadan is a time to dress up and wear expensive but modest dresses, jewelry, scarfs and shoes.

“This year, without Eid [ceremonies that are usually held at the beginning and end of Ramadan], the vibrant energy and excitement around one of our two annual Eid ceremonies is dulled,” Rashad said. “Instead of getting a nice new outfit to show off, I’m settling on buying a new comfy set of pajamas.”

Despite many Muslims feeling alone without family or friends, several Muslim celebrities like Zayn Malik have honored the holiday on their social media accounts to stay connected with their followers.

“For me, I have a love-hate relationship with celebrities posting because some are just not genuine about it or think it would be good for publicity,” Rashad said. “But I genuinely believe some celebrities post out of the kindness of their hearts, and it means a lot.”