Ramadan and Community in the time of Covid-19: Conversation with Zain Ahmed

“Let’s welcome the blessing Ramadan as a moment to break the chain of transmission of the plague for the sake of personal safety, relatives and the entire nation.” – Indonesian President Joko Widodo

The holy month of Ramadan is vital for Covid-19 response in Indonesia and around the world. This fasting month, focused on community, family, and charity, has already begun. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country and, each year, millions return home to their villages across the archipelago at the end of the month. To date, over 590 people have died from Covid-19 in Indonesia – the highest toll in Asia outside China – and experts fear that travel will spread the disease further. Ensuring community members receive support during this time, connect online, and adhere to health guidelines is critical to slowing the spread of Covid-19.



Atma Connect community member and supporter Zain Ahmed spoke with Atma about the connections he has made between Ramadan, flattening the curve during Covid-19, and Atma Connect. Zain is an aerodynamicist working in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and a former coordinator at the (affirming) Calgary Alberta Unity Mosque. (Photo credit: Toronto Star)



“My perspective on Islam is seeing Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) as having taken the role of a psychologist, speaking to people at their level and demonstrating excellent character in a relatable way. He strived to work within his culture at a grassroots level to bring out the very best in people. And this is why I value Atma. Atma works to provide tools that will bring out the very best in people in a way that is self-propagating. It too seeks to help and connect people, as they are, in a grassroots way.” – Zain Ahmed, Atma Connect Supporter

AtmaGo, our neighbors helping neighbors app and programming, is working to flatten the curve through digital events, trainings, and mutual support. People are using the app to inform their neighbors about Covid-19 risks and prevention and to catalyze behavior change for the good of their communities. The importance of honouring one’s neighbors from all walks of life, a connection Zain has made between Atma and Ramadan, is emphasized across many faiths. To Zain, the very premise of Atma is establishing and elevating the connections of neighbors, empowering people to help each other and share information and, inspiring improved livelihood and well-being. Another of the related Islamic teachings that have stood out for Zain during this time of Covid-19 is, “If you hear of a plague in a land, then do not go into it. If it happens in land where you are, then do not go out of it.” (Sahih Bukhari 5396). To Zain, this is social distancing. Additionally, one of the ideas of fasting during Ramadan is that it is an invisible worship and source of connection through inaction. It is connection through inaction — where Muslims are connecting with a higher power by not eating and drinking and by being extra conscious to not harm others. Similarly, in this time of Covid-19 we are abstaining from in-person connection, being extra conscious not to harm others, and finding alternative ways to support one another. 

Zain ended his conversation with Atma with a lesson from a teacher: “Often we get so stuck on trying to do what we are supposed to do that we miss its essence. Let us be good to our neighbors and uplift each other, this Ramadan and beyond inshaAllah. Let us spread rahmah (grace) through resilience, and let us spread resilience through Atma.”

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