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Coronavirus Changes How Utah Muslims Observe Ramadan

Photo of two people sitting on a rug.
Courtesy of Hanifa Dhedhy
Hanifa Dhedhy listens to her son read the Quran in their home during Ramadan.

Nights during the month of Ramadan are usually busy, with hundreds of people gathering at the Utah Islamic Center to pray and eat together.

This year, Ramadan began on April 23, but the Center canceled its gatherings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Hanifa Dhedhy breaks her sunrise-to-sunset fast — iftar — with just her husband, mother-in-law and two sons. It’s quieter than in past years, but she doesn’t mind.

“I do appreciate this time at home with my family,” Dhedhy said. “Because despite Ramadan being so communal and meeting everyone, there is a little bit of a distraction from the original point.”

She called Ramadan a “humbling reset button,” where she gives thanks for all she has and thinks about the less fortunate. The pandemic has put extra emphasis on that for her.

“You are truly looking for all the blessings around us, and we have been blessed because we’re home and safe,” she said.

Photo of the the mosque the family set up in their basement
Credit Courtesy of Hanifa Dhedhy
Hanifa Dhedhy's family set up a mosque in their basement, where they have their nightly prayers during Ramadan. The rest of the time, the space is used as a place to reflect.

Dhedhy’s family set up a mosque in their basement before Ramadan. Each night, her son leads the family’s prayers. The space has served as a place of worship where they can have some quiet time and collect their thoughts. And during this time, Dhedhy said it’s making a big difference.

Emily Means covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Means13

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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