PARMA, Ohio — Over the last several weeks, people of all different faiths have found safe ways to worship and celebrate religious holidays.
Some members of Cleveland’s Muslim community held socially-distanced celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan.
Leaders at the Islamic Center of Cleveland in Parma closed the mosque in early March and have not held religious services since then for safety reasons. They say even though they can’t have their religious services inside this year, they were not going to let the coronavirus stop them from celebrating this very important holiday in their faith.
Eid al-Fitr is a holiday celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic faith, when Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset for 30 days. Typically, the Islamic Center of Cleveland welcomes thousands of local families for several religious services on the holiday, but this year things are different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the center organized a parade so its members could celebrate safely.
“Its really nice that they were able to put this together and figure something out in this situation,” Louie Hamdan, a member of the center, said. “With what’s going on, we have to be safe, safety first.”
Hamdan says this is the first year his two oldest children participated in fasting for Ramadan.
“They didn’t think we were going to do anything because we’re very strict as far as staying home and being socially distanced and all that, so just for them to hear that we’re going out to celebrate, they were very happy and very excited,” Hamdan said.
ICC staff set up stations in the parking lot, handing out candy, toys, balloons, and other goodies for families. President Ziad Tayeh says it's more than just a celebration - it's a way for members of his community to stay and feel connected.
“This is a place where people come for comfort, spiritual comfort. And unfortunately, they haven’t been able to experience that for the past couple of months. So by having an event at the mosque, hopefully it's going to bring back some good memories,” Tayeh said. “It's a wonderful feeling, we’re really glad that we get to spread a little bit of the holiday spirit and hope that it has a good effect on the community.”
Tayeh says ICC staff are planning a very limited reopening of the mosque for next week and will reassess the situation week by week while working towards a larger reopening in the future.