WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Tuesday is the first full day of Ramadan, the holiest month for more than 1.8 billion Muslims around the world.
“It’s a very special month. It’s a month that comes full of blessings where small actions, the reward of that is magnified,” Resident Scholar and Assistant Imam at Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts, Mirza Yawar Baig told 22News.
Muslims believe that during Ramadan, prayers and good deeds will be amplified in the eyes of Allah, or “God” in Arabic. The month commemorates the Prophet Muhammad’s first revelation of receiving the texts of the Qur’an.
“Allah (SWT) God almighty gives us an opportunity to what I like to call a reboot our lives. I see Ramadan as a boot camp. I’ve been doing whatever I’ve been doing but here’s an opportunity to sit down, take stock,. and say ‘well if all this is fine then wonderful but if it isn’t then here’s an opportunity to do something about it’,” Baig explained.
Muslims fast for 30 days from sunrise to sundown during the month of Ramadan. Each night followers gather for night prayer, or taraweeh at the Islamic Society of western Massachusetts. They have limited capacity due to COVID-19.
Islam emphasizes increased charity, prayer, reflection and fasting from sunrise to sundown during Ramadan. Many see the month as a time to self-reflect. It’s not just a fast from food and water but many see the month as a time to self-reflect.
“Ramadan is not only about fasting. It’s not just fasting from food and drink and desires during a specific time of the day, it’s fasting from everything which is negative,” Baig said.
Eid-Al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan where followers get to break their fasts, is predicted to happen either May 12th or 13th but it all depends on the sighting of the crescent moon on the 29th day of Ramadan. Last year the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts had to have the celebration at the Big E due to COVID-19.
“We like to come to the mosque, we like to pray in congregation,” Baig explained.
Last year the mosque wasn’t open during Ramadan due to COVID-19 restrictions. But this year the Islamic society of Western Massachusetts can have prayers, with limited capacity inside the mosque.
All prayer spaces are distanced and the rugs were taken out to avoid any potential COVID contaminants. Attendees are required to pre-register to attend any prayers at the mosque.
“This time we are able to have the mosque open and of course getting into this mosque is like getting into Fort Knox,” Baig joked when asked about how this year is different than last. But despite the extra precautions, he said the the feeling of unity is the same.
“It’s very exciting. It’s very exciting to be part of, from the Muslim perspective, to be a part of a billion and a half or more people worldwide who are all doing the same thing today,” Baig said.
The location for this year’s Eid-Al-Fitr in western Massachusetts is still to be determined.