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Muslims begin marking a subdued Ramadan under virus closures

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Muslims worldwide began Ramadan on Friday with dawn-to-dusk fasting, but many will have to forgo the communal prayers and family gatherings that make the holy month special, as authorities maintain lockdowns aimed at slowing the coronavirus pandemic.

Ramadan is usually a festive season, with the daylong fast followed by lavish meals and evening get-togethers. But this year many are confined to their homes, travel is heavily restricted and public venues like parks, malls and even mosques are shuttered.

Over the next month, a Jacksonville family would normally host hundreds of people at their home for dinner, but because of the COVID-19 “safer at home” order, this year’s Ramadan celebration will be much quieter.

Sel and Angie Buyuksarac have opened their home to the public for dinners all throughout the Muslim holy month since 2007.

Even members of the News4Jax family have joined the family in past years, but not this year.

While friends and family have still asked to join the family, the Buyuksaracs say they’re respecting the state and local safety orders in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I would never forgive myself if someone got sick here,” Sel said.

So even though the couple’s evening meals during Ramadan will be much more intimate this time around, Sel says that could be a good thing.

“This is a time we get stronger especially mentally, with the knowledge and the learning and more family time and better connection to God,” Sel said.

“We can always celebrate, we can always invite people any time of the year,” Angie added.


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