KEY POINTS

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio said 500,000 halal meals would be given for free for Ramadan
  • These will be distributed in sites set up by the Department of Education
  • Muslims everywhere will be observing Ramadan differently because of coronavirus

New York City is going to provide 500,000 free halal meals to Muslims observing the Ramadan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed during a Thursday press briefing that several sites around the city, coursed through the Department of Education, will be serving 400,000 meals. The remaining 100,000 meals will be given to community organizations that have partnered with the city.

"One of Ramadan’s most noble callings is to feed the hungry, to remember to be there for those in need," the mayor said. "That is now harder than ever now that people can’t go to their mosques.”

Millions of Muslims all over the world will observe Ramadan beginning Thursday (April 23) until Saturday (May 23). The month-long event is a period of fasting, reflection, prayer, community service, and self-improvement.

Adult Muslims, who do not have any chronic illnesses or who are not pregnant and breastfeeding, are obligated to fast every day from dawn to dusk. However, coronavirus during Ramadan will be different as Muslims won't be able to congregate and hold prayers at mosques or break their fast in the evening with family and friends.

"It’s going to be a lot more lonely,” Dr. Nasir Malim, a frontliner in New York, told Time.  "But I do still consider the act of removing people from harm, and maintaining health and life a form of worship."

Malim said that he will still observe fasting despite his work at the hospital. He expects, however, that he will have a difficult time with this obligation.

"Everything about the situation right now will take a physical toll on my body,” the doctor said. “I honestly can’t imagine doing resuscitation and doing CPR and kind of pressing down on someone’s chest to keep their heart beating while fasting."

Meanwhile, New York City also prepares Kosher meals for Jews through its grab-and-go partnerships across 435 cites.

"It's a reminder [New York City] is a place that truly believes in equality," said the mayor. "No New Yorker will go hungry."