Like so many organizations – both religious and secular – across the Semiahmoo Peninsula that have been forced to make adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the White Rock Muslim Association and its members are preparing to observe Ramadan on a much smaller scale this year.
Ramadan – a holy month of fasting and prayer – begins April 13 and lasts until mid-May, and traditionally includes prayers five times per day, including an evening prayer, Tarawih, that is followed by the breaking of the day’s fast.
However, with local Muslims not able to gather together at the White Rock association’s building (15531 24 Ave.), all aspects of this year’s Ramadan will need to be done privately, in families’ respective homes, former White Rock Muslim Association president Asad Syed told Peace Arch News.
“It’s completely changed. We used to have gatherings every night… now we’ve had to completely stop,” Syed said, adding that, in a normal year, each Friday during Ramadan, the association would also normally host a large dinner gathering.
“In Ramadan, you fast in the daytime… and every evening you break fast. Around sunset, we used to get together in our centre and break the fast.”
Now, Syed said those observing Ramadan will do so at home, with their immediate families rather than the wider community.
“We’ll do everything still at home… but the social (aspect) is gone.”
Adjustments to certain celebrations and events – if not outright cancellations – are not new for religious organizations on the Peninsula and beyond. Last weekend, churches were not allowed to hold annual Easter services due to health protocols and rules against gathering indoors.
In mid-May, Muslims will mark the end of Ramadan with a celebration called Eid, and Syed was still holding out hope that by then, provincial restrictions may ease to a point where they’ll be able to celebrate together. Last year, Eid was also cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ll just have to see,” he said.
Syed added that most members of the association are understanding, though he noted there are “mixed emotions.”
“Mostly, everyone is just disappointed. But everyone understands. I don’t blame anyone. This is just how it is and we have to follow the rules,” he said.
“It’s the same emotions that other communities are also feeling.”