What are the issues and concerns of Muslim Americans as we approach a COVID-19 Ramadan? The FYI conducted a survey in order to gain a better understanding to support you during this physically distant and spiritually different Ramadan! These findings were used to design our COVID-19 Ramadan Toolkit.
In an effort to provide community leaders and organizers with pertinent information about the needs of Muslim Americans, we’re sharing these preliminary findings. The survey collected 420 responses between April 2 – April 13. We recognize that there are limitations to this dataset and the survey does not account for a reflective representation of Muslim Americans. Specific limitations include: brief data collection period, race/ethnicity, age, gender, voices of revert Muslims, and those of varied socioeconomic backgrounds. Please keep these limitations in mind as you review the responses. If you are a researcher and would like more detailed information regarding the data, please contact us.
Profile of respondents
Demographically, our survey respondents were generally under 50 years of age (86%), mostly females (66%) and primarily Asians and Arabs (42% and 30%).
Coping with COVID-19
What is the most challenging part of the COVID-19 epidemic for you?
The most prevalent challenges reported by Muslim American respondents were concerns over the physical or mental health of a loved one or oneself as well as the lack of social gatherings.
Differences by age are noted below, with younger individuals (18-29) reporting more challenges due to lack of social gatherings, while older individuals reported more concerns about physical and mental health.
How have you been coping with the unexpected changes?
Survey respondents are coping with the current situation by way of entertainment (e.g. watching television, surfing the internet, humor), engaging in spiritual activities (e.g. reading Qur’an, dhikr, fasting, listening to online lectures), talking with family and friends, engaging in hobbies (cooking, baking, gardening) and exercise.
When segmented by age, younger individuals relied more heavily on entertainment to cope with their current situation.
Spirituality & Ramadan
In past Ramadans, which of the following was spiritually important to you?
Survey respondents identified praying together, an overall spiritual environment (of the mosque or home), committing to be a better person, and recitation of the Qur’an were spiritually important to them in previous Ramadans. The response was similar across demographic variables.
What are some of the spiritual practices you worry will be impacted during a COVID-19 Ramadan?
When it comes to missing specific spiritual practices this Ramadan, not surprisingly the responses were quite clear – taraweeh prayers will be missed most, followed by attending lectures at the mosque. The responses were consistent across demographic variables.
What are the spiritual feelings you worry will be impacted during a COVID-19 Ramadan?
This Ramadan, Muslim American respondents are most concerned about not having a sense of belonging to a community and being motivated to engage in greater religious practices. The concerns were consistent across demographic variables.
What are some of the issues that you, your family, or your roommate expect to encounter as you spiritually prepare for a COVID-19 Ramadan?
As they spiritually prepare for Ramadan, survey respondents reported anticipating the need to address issues related to community connection, maintaining motivation/focus, and relationship stress (parent-child, marital, etc.).
Community & Ramadan
Ramadan is often a period associated with an increased feeling of community and connection. In the past, indicate which activities increased your sense of community.
Muslim American respondents report that meeting fellow mosque congregants, attending iftars and communal prayers were the methods they used to develop a sense community during past Ramadans. Similar responses were noted across demographic variables.
Furthermore, individuals are currently relying on online connectivity to maintain a sense of community. Respondents reported maintaining community primarily through reaching out to family and friends (80%), with some indicating use of online programming to maintain a sense of connection with their faith communities also (14%). While Muslim American respondents indicated that they are likely to continue these practices in Ramadan, many individuals also reported that they plan to find alternative methods to experience connection, such as spending time alone with God, bringing food to neighbors and friends, self-care, and having smaller services with family.
What resources do you need from your mosque or Muslim organizations that are currently not being provided (or not sufficiently provided)?
Survey respondents were most interested in mosques and Muslim American organizations providing religious programming and mental health resources. Mental health topics of greatest interest include staying motivated/positive as well as managing anxiety, depression, and stress.
Differences by age were noted in this category. Young people’s top need is mental health support followed by religious programming, unlike the other age groups.
What specific spiritual or social programs would you like your mosque or other organizations to provide during a COVID-19 Ramadan?
Survey respondents were most interested in mosques providing online religious lectures, supporting night prayers (taraweeh and qiyam) as well as having online social programming.
While this will be a physically distant and spiritually different Ramadan, our current situation does not prevent us from catching the blessings of Ramadan. The Family and Youth Institute is here to serve you during these times. These findings have been published for the benefit of individuals and institutions interested in better supporting Muslim American well-being as we navigate through this COVID-19 Ramadan. As we work to develop more resources to address your needs, we hope that this summary will empower you to make adjustments, identify creative alternatives and help transform your Ramadan this year!
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