A Lot Of Muslims Are Relating To This TikTok About A Group Of Friends Who Won't Be Able To Meet Up This Ramadan For The First Time In Six Years
"It makes me feel proud that people feel touched by us coming together, it just reminds me that we're a family."
Tonight marks the start of Ramadan for Muslims across the world and because of the coronavirus, it will be contained to households for the first time. Usually during the month of Ramadan, Muslims go out to nightly prayers or meet extended family and friends to break their fast. But for the most part, it is a spiritual time.
One of the many Muslims not able to participate in Ramadan with friends this year is TikTok user @Kyoxjin. He's a 24-year-old student from North West London in his final year of university.
A video of him and his friends having to break their six-year-old iftar (the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset) tradition went viral as many Muslims were relating to his TikTok — they too will be unable to meet up with people outside of their household.
@Kyoxjin told BuzzFeed News the usual Ramadan for him goes beyond iftar. He said: "It's the thing I look forward to most during the month with my friends, but we also go out to eat to break our fast and sometimes if we're still outside, we'll open our fast somewhere too.
"We play football regularly before iftar, and there's even times when we'll go to the gym during the night between breaking our fast and opening it again.
"Ramadan in that sense is the feeling of being part of a Muslim community, along with the extended hours we can meet up during the morning, day and night. Everything about it just feels different to a regular month.
"The iftar itself is a chance for all the smaller groups to come together and have a good time."
He said when they were together, they'd play a variety of games together while catching up with each other as some of them hadn't been able to meet up during the rest of the year.
"Most of the time, we'll have one side of the room playing PS4, and the other side of the room playing Mafia, and everyone will alternate these two activities." For friends who can't make it, they make a list and drive to each of their homes to give them baklawa.
"We allocate them into different areas of London and spend a day driving around and dropping Baklawa to their houses. To sum up I would [say] Ramadan is an escape for us from the rest of the year, especially when we can see people who we haven't seen during the year."
He said he initially joined TikTok to post funny videos to promote his podcast, but then decided to post the emotional iftar one since it reflected how he feeling at the time.
@Kyoxjin said: "I think a lot of people may be able to relate to the feeling of dread they may have experienced when first contemplating the lockdown. I was going through this too and it hit me like 'Damn, we won't be able to do this this year.' So I think the TikTok was a way of expressing my sadness."
The sadness is something a lot of people related to; many of the commenters have been tagging their friends.
He said he didn't notice when he'd gone viral at first: It was only when he started getting messages from other people that he knew that they had seen him in a TikTok.
He said: "It was also something we didn't really think about but the video made us take a step back and think, this is a really big deal and it's quite emotional. I think seeing people comment about how sad it is made us feel more sad, and that song is sooo emotional."
Since the video went viral, people are now invested in the group's friendship and are wondering if they will have any virtual iftars. But @Kyoxjin says that they haven't made plans to do an online one yet.
He said that they're hoping that once the circumstances change, they may be fasting a day outside of Ramadan to have an iftar. He said: "Right now, our priorities lie in making sure our families are all safe and everyone is coping well.
"We hope that people may follow our lead and stay home despite any temptations to see their friends and family. We do all keep in contact though, the other day we all jumped onto Instagram live and watched our friend Nudz shave his head live."
He said his friends in the TikTok said the video made them emotional too.
@yourwcwsmcm on Twitter said: "When I saw the post on Twitter, it made me cry because we weren't able to do it this year."
His friend JJ said: "It makes me feel proud that people feel touched by us coming together, it just reminds me that we're a family."
When some people heard that Ramadan was approaching there had been assumptions that coronavirus cases would rise.
@Kyoxjin said he feels like the misconceptions have come from different groups and that the lockdown could be a good thing spiritually for Muslims. He said he has also gotten closer to his family during the lockdown.
He said: "One misconception from slightly misinformed people is that Muslims will still meet up despite the lockdown. This is definitely not the case at all — although it's sad, we all feel safety is more important than anything.
"Another misconception would be that Ramadan is just cancelled. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam so it isn't something we would just give up so easily.
"I don't want to be someone who sees the good in every situation, because this pandemic has cost people their lives, their jobs and mental health, but in terms of Ramadan, the lockdown is a chance to block out worldly distractions from outside your home and get closer to God spiritually.
"Many Muslims spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in the mosque, cut off from the outside world, this practice is called Itikaaf. The lockdown is basically a monthlong Itikaaf for us at home, and we can choose to see it as an opportunity to work on our spirituality without distractions.
He added: "It is especially important for us to pray for everyone, regardless of religion, ethnicity, and gender, in hope that they all stay safe and well during these especially hard times."