Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Danieh Khan passes a date to her mother while her sister Urba and niece Sophia (far left) watch as the Khan family prepares to break its fast during a picnic in a Surrey, B.C., park.

Photography by Alia Youssef/The Globe and Mail

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a pause on many people’s Ramadan traditions and altered their perspective on what the holy month means to them. For many, the public-health restrictions have taken away distractions and allowed them to connect more deeply with their spirituality. Families have had more time with each other, and with those in their household bubbles, than during any previous Ramadan. There is a new-found gratitude for being outdoors, where it is possible to gather safely.

This photo essay showcases families and friends who came together to break their fasts with iftar picnics in and around Vancouver. They shared their thoughts on how the pandemic has affected their experiences of Ramadan this year.


LEFT: Maryam Razmpush, Norah Alikhani, Maya Alikhani, Kamila Alikhani, and Mason Alikhani sit under their backyard cherry blossom tree for an iftar picnic. RIGHT: Maryam sits with her granddaughter Norah Alikhani at an Iftar picnic she prepared in the family’s backyard.

The Alikhani family enjoy traditional Persian dishes in their backyard. They call this space their “little corner of paradise.” Kamila Alikhani said this is the first year her daughters have been old enough to participate in the Ramadan traditions and learn about its rituals. “It’s been wonderful to have quiet nights of self-reflection, time and space without rush or expectation to attend a gathering,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement


Marta Miazek, left, and her friend Mina Khan enjoy a physically distant picnic at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver.

Mina Khan places a chocolate covered date onto her plate.

Marta Miazek said that since she doesn’t have family who are Muslim, Ramadan has always been a bit lonely. The pandemic has made it even harder without group activities such as iftar. For people who have converted to Islam, she said, “It can be an incredibly isolating time because we rely so heavily on community, and friends become like family.” The pandemic has allowed greater inner reflection during Ramadan. But, with the warmer weather, the possibility of gathering safely outside has felt really fulfill- ing. “I know you can do Zoom calls, but it’s not the same as seeing someone in person,” she said. “There is also something very special about sharing a meal with someone.”


Nour Enayeh, centre, and her two children, Iman El-Safadi and Youssof El-Safadi, right, have an Iftar picnic at a popular park along Vancouver’s False Creek Seawall.

Nour Enayeh said the pandemic changed her family’s experience of Ramadan greatly because they cannot break their fast with friends or gather with the community to pray at the mosque.

“The pandemic pushed us to experience a more quiet Ramadan,” she said. “We bonded more over iftar and by praying together as a family.”

Above, she mixes together a cucumber salad with greens. “We will break our fast with water and dates. I prepared rice with peas and chicken, which is a traditional Syrian dish.”


Jordan Ouellette, left, Sarah Munawar, and their five-month-old son, Ihsaan, enjoy takeout food from a local grocer at a Vancouver beach.

Ms. Munawar said it’s very hard not to be able to travel and see her family in Ontario for their baby’s first Ramadan. She said: “As much as I wanted with all my heart to fast this Ramadan, I’m finding that postpartum recovery and no access to child care or community support as a new mother has made it very difficult. It’s hard to cook, clean, work, care for baby all day and make time to read Koran, pray and reflect. Instead, I am learning to really focus on strengthening the sincerity and intention with which I perform little actions of worship.”


From left to right: Mahir Sumar, Zunera Khan, Rushd Khan, Danieh Khan, Arshiya Khan, Urba Khan, Midha Khan, Zafar Khan, and Lubna Khan, make dua (a prayer of supplication) before breaking their fast while picnicking in a Surrey, BC park.

The Khans have a family-run restaurant and prepared-food business, so Ramadan was always a busy time of year serving friends and customers at their buffet. The pandemic has forced them to be creative and think outside of the box. This year, they are working with local mosques and community organizations on drive-through iftar programs. They prepare between 300 and 400 iftar meal boxes a day. Urba Khan said: “The global pandemic has halted all social gatherings, which has made it difficult to connect with our friends like we traditionally did. On the bright side, our family has been lucky because we live together and can celebrate Ramadan together in our home.”

This year, for Ramadan, all 10 members of the family – nine adults and one toddler – decided to live under one roof.

Story continues below advertisement

LEFT: Arshiya Khan, right, and her husband Rushd Khan converse while sipping on a sherbet called rooh afza at their family’s Iftar picnic in a Surrey, B.C., park. RIGHT: For the Khan family’s iftar meal, they created an iftar version of a charcuterie board.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies