PATERSON, N.J. — Muslim communities are observing the holy month of Ramadan, and because of the pandemic, this year, there is a heightened appreciation for the togetherness and unity that Ramadan brings.
The blessings of Ramadan include the return of bigger crowds to the rebuilt Islamic center on Jersey City‘s West Side Avenue, welcoming the faithful inside to see improvements with fewer COVID-related restrictions than before.
“This is like a house for us … We go inside and spend some time with God, with Allah,” Jersey City resident Mohamed Ali said. “We are all equal.”
“A very much-needed detox, a cleanse … and just really focus on yourself and it really humbles you ,” Jersey City resident Meriam Salahddine said.
The original center it was heavily damaged by fire in 2014 and rebuilt with a $5 million project.
It was Feb. 28, eight years ago, when the Al-Tawheed Islamic Center crumbled and, bouncing back from that, took perseverance and creativity through a long construction project and the pandemic.
“With a strong faith, you can really make a lot of big things happen. I mean, we were very patient because it’s been many years that we just resorted to praying in a garage kind of setting,” Salahddine said. “I’m really happy.”
“We are kicking off the holy month Ramadan. It’s a period of time where Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. It also represents in the lunar calendar, which is followed in Islam, the ninth calendar month, it is when the Koran was revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad,” Sayegh said. “Once the sun sets, people go to restaurants with their families. They stimulate our local economy, so there’s an economic aspect to this religious holiday.”
Everyone is welcome, the mayor says, to learn more about Ramadan with plenty of opportunities all month long.