St. Louis Mosques Encourage Vaccinations, Limit Ramadan Gatherings To Protect Muslims

As Muslims prepare for the holy month of Ramadan, religious leaders in the St. Louis area are encouraging Muslims to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Many mosques also schedule limited celebrations during Ramadan – a month of fast, prayer, and reflection – to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. They offer virtual sermons, shorter nightly Quran readings, and prepackaged meals to break the fast during a dinner called iftar.

To keep people safe, the Greater St. Louis Islamic Foundation hosted a vaccination clinic in Masjid Bilal Ibn Rabaah and Daar Ul Islam over the weekend to help vaccinate members of the Muslim communities and help the virus spread during Ramadan limit starting on Tuesday.

“Everyone should be vaccinated,” said Ghazala Hayat, a spokeswoman for the foundation. “You should be vaccinated as soon as possible because it is necessary for your health.”

Vaccinations and drug use are discouraged during Ramadan and should only be used in emergency situations, she said. However, if someone is scheduled to receive the vaccine during Lent, they can miss that fast and catch up within the year.

Muslim leaders are asking people with medical conditions to stay home and pray this year.

Hayat said people should think about their health first and then about their religious obligations.

The holy month of Ramadan is usually the busiest month of the year for mosques, but they won’t see the same number of visitors this year. Most mosques in the St. Louis area will be open.

Dar Aljalal, a small Islamic center in Hazelwood, will continue to hold scheduled prayer and Quran readings as the center is large enough for its community to create social distance. However, iftar meals are not offered to limit social gatherings.

Ramadan is also a time to care for others in the community. Instead of offering nightly iftars to members of the Dar Aljalal Mosque, the Islamic Center accepts money and food. In this way, a local Islamic group can provide food to families who cannot feed themselves during Ramadan and people who are fasting.

Major mosque festivals will have to wait this year because community health is a priority, said Muath Alhiyari, chairman of the board of directors of Dar Aljalal.

“In the first few days of Ramadan, we will only focus on safety, temperature, social distance, mask, and the number of brothers and sisters who come in,” Alhiyari said.

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