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'A New Perspective': Muslims Praying Away From Mosques This Ramadan

Praying together in a mosque could put Muslims at risk of catching COVID-19, so mosques are closed to the public.

That makes for a very different celebration of the holy month of Ramadan in 2020. It means that special evening prayers must be done at home.

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“We always do it at the masjid,” said Abdullah Malik, 5, of Newington.

Instead of participating in evening prayers among a congregation at the masjid, or mosque, Samee Malik, 18, leads his family in prayer from his living room. He performs the Taraweeh -- the evening prayer that follows a day of fasting -- standing in front of Abdullah, his other brother, and his parents with his body pointed in the direction of Mecca.

“It kind of like gives us a new perspective how we can stay connected to our religion and keep our faith strong in these times that there’s so much uncertainty,” said Malik.

In Ramadans past, he’d have been at the Berlin Mosque. That’s where the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford held evening prayer Friday. A shaykh recited verses from the second chapter of the Quran -- but in front of no congregants.

Dozens of followers, including Samee Malik, participated virtually. He watched the shaykh on Facebook Live while he sat on the couch.

Credit Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio
A screen grab of the Malik family performing the Taraweeh prayer in their Newington living room, captured by a Connecticut Public Radio reporter who was able to follow along via Zoom videoconferencing.

Not being able to go to the mosque represents the biggest change for Malik as part of Ramadan 2020 under the threat of COVID-19.

“That’s the thing I’ll miss the most,” Malik said. “That’s where I get to spend the month with my friends and create those long-lasting memories of the month.”

Ramadan continues until May 23.

Imams with the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford are asking families to sit and watch a virtual Taraweeh every night and then recite the prayer themselves at home after the service.

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