SANTA CLARA, Calif. - It’s the first day of fasting for Muslims around the world. Muslim families fast every day from sunrise to sunset in observance of the holy month of Ramadan. Some Bay Area mosques are holding in-person gatherings.
At the Muslim Community Center in Santa Clara, Muslims gathered in person, some for the first time in months, to mark the start of Ramadan. It’s a sacred time of self-reflection and sacrifice. Part of Ramadan is when the sun is out, there’s no eating, smoking, drinking, and no water.
"One of the biggest components of Ramadan is being around the community and being around other people, it’s sort of like combining of hearts," said Abdullah Ibrahim of the Muslim Community Association.
The community closeness was gone for a year due to the pandemic.
Prepandemic, the mosque in Santa Clara would be filled with thousands of people gathering at sunset to break fast and pray. Now half of the members are in attendance.
There’s limited space with markings on the ground for social distancing, masks required and everyone must bring their own mats.
"They would have to put their own prayer mats in front of them so it’s not the same people touching their heads on the floor in the same spot," said Ibrahim.
Also, there are shorter prayer times to reduce risk and updated air filtration systems. Instead of community dinners, there are boxed meals for pickup.
"We’re excited, it's the most important month of the year for us," said Mubashir Mohammed of Santa Clara.
Mohammed said while not standing next to each other praying is different, it’s better than last year.
"It’s not the full experience but at least it’s better than last year when it was completely shut down," said Mohammed.
Not everyone is comfortable with in-person gatherings. The Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California in Oakland is leading prayers for its 300 members on Zoom. They said patience is key.
"We try to communicate and convey to the members that some aspects of life are definitely taxed, definitely not what they used to be but there are also other opportunities that have arisen," said Ahmad Rashid Salim of the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California.
The mosques are taking precautions now so they can open at full capacity next year.
"A lot of people said Ramadan isn't the same without being in the mosque and without being in the community," said Ibrahim.
May 12 marks the end of Ramadan. The center in Santa Clara is capping capacity at 25%.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.