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Historymaking Muslim Officials Share Personal Accounts of COVID-19’s Impact on Their Ramadan

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Muslim Advocates’ National Iftar is releasing a preview of its program scheduled to air at 7pm ET on Tuesday, May 12. At an advance filming for the event, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Rep. André Carson (D-IN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), opened up about the deeply personal ways that COVID-19 has impacted their Ramadan. All three have made history as first ever Muslims elected to serve in many government capacities and are honorary co-hosts of The National Iftar.



Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison started the conversation by noting that his mother recently died from COVID-19 complications and shared how that experience brought his family together:

“Right before Ramadan started, my mother passed away. And as you know, our faith tells us that our mother is the most dear to us. And my mother’s death was related to COVID,” said Ellison. “So this Ramadan has helped me manage the loss of one of the most important people in my life and my prayers are more earnest, my connection with family has been more dear. And we’ve really learned that physical proximity is not required in order to build family relation. You can build relationships without necessarily being able to be physically close. We couldn’t hug each other at the funeral. We could only have 50 people there. It was really tough but that did not inhibit the love that was between us.”

Rep. André Carson talked about helping his daughter with her homework though the video chatting app Houseparty: 

“During these times of isolation and social distancing, I’ve even had to wrestle with how I now parent,” stated Carson. “My daughter, who was with me for a few days up until yesterday, got me on Houseparty. And so, even though I’m not as cool as I think I am, I was able to engage virtually with her, being in her room, and some other folks through House Party. But also, helping her with her homework virtually has given me a different kind of gratitude for the kinds of tutors that I had growing up.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib talked about how hard it has been to be away from her mother and the rest of her family this Ramadan.

“Being the eldest of 14, having such a large family; we all live near each other in Michigan and it’s been very difficult for us to be away from our mother who is really the queen of our family,” said Tlaib. “It also made me know that I won’t take that for granted anymore; being able to cook next to my mom, preparing meals for our large family together. For me it took a pause of understanding of just how blessed I was to even be able to do that. And again, I think it’s really been difficult being away from them this Ramadan.”

The Iftar will also feature spiritual reflections from Imam Khalid Latif and Dr. Ingrid Mattson, musical appearances by spoken word and hip hop artist Aisha Fukushima, Muslim activists leading the fight against COVID-19 and Ramadan greetings from Muslim leaders in many fields, including Farooq Kathwari, CEO of Ethan Allen and supermodel Halima Aden. 

Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.