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(RNS) – For most Muslims, Ramadan is a month filled with community and fellowship: waking up together to eat before dawn, sharing communal iftar meals to break the fast in the evening, praying together in the mosque long into the night.
But for others, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar is also the loneliest.
Converts - Immigrants - LGBTQ - Muslims - Area
Whether they’re recent converts, new immigrants, LGBTQ Muslims, married to a non-Muslim, living in a rural or isolated area, living alone or simply living in a new area without a Muslim network, many Muslims may not have a mosque or Muslim community to bond with.
Instead, they turn to social media to help bridge the distance between friends, family and religious leaders.
Muslim - Community - Media - Lectures - Scholars
“I really want to connect to the Muslim community physically, but I need social media to help me do that, to help me see lectures from scholars and find out about community iftars,” said Omar Aziz, an Afghan American community organizer studying higher education at George Mason University. “We have to rely a lot on these digital spaces because we’re not always connected and we might be far away from communities and family and places that we find that sense of belonging.”
Social media and technology are critical to helping fill that gap, Omar said.
Media - Part - Building - Community - Friendships
“Connecting through social media is a really big part of building community and having friendships,” Aziz said. “Because we don’t always have a lot of spaces to do that ourselves.”
Five years ago, writer Shannon Abulnasr created the Ramadan Iftar Project, a Facebook group with more than 2,100 members, to help Muslim converts connect with community online. Group members in the same time zone connect via video chat to break their fasts together and share photos of their iftar.
Islam - Website - IFoundIslam - Net - Fellow
Abulnasr converted to Islam in 2006 and launched a now-defunct website called IFoundIslam.net to help guide fellow...
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