'Time of reflection': As Ramadan begins, Project Taqwa helps Chicago area Muslims with mental health resources
CHICAGO (CBS) -- Sunset marks the start of Ramadan.
As Muslims prepare for the holiest month, CBS 2's Chris Tye tells us what Chicago-area Muslims will be focusing on this year.
"Ramadan is a time of self reflection, a time to empty our bodies from the materialistic (and) to fill it with spirit," said Imam Hassan Aly of the The Mecca Center.
What will also be full, for the first time in three years: Places of worship like the Mecca Center in Willowbrook, where they expect members of the local Muslim community shoulder to shoulder over the next 29 days.
A site COVID took from them since 2019.
"We should not take it for granted. Anything could happen, god forbid. We should take advantage of today and take advantage of this year," Aly said.
Hia Moinuddin is preparing meals for the month ahead, where fasting and breaking the fast are part of the daily routine.
"It's a time of really great spiritual rejuvenation, where we think about how to improve ourselves," Moinuddin said.
Part of that improvement is a program she's the lead therapist for. Project Taqwa helps those of her faith deal with the often stigmatized problems around mental health.
"How complex it can be for people who struggle with mental health to really, especially during this month, focus on these areas: how do I get better as a person? How do I deepen my connection with God," asked Moinuddin.
The first fast of Ramadan will begin Thursday at sunrise. The focus this year will be on gratitude, given so many in their community are suffering half a world away.
"This year might be unique, especially in regard to earthquakes and other catastrophes that occurred in our communities," Moinunddin said.
Over 45,000 died from these quakes in Turkey and Syria. Many of them were Muslim and they're all being remembered during the holiest month of this calendar year.
"Entering Ramadan with this mindset of amplified gratitude. Of being grateful we are here."
To learn more about the mental health program being offered to those in the Muslim community, click here to visit the Project Taqwa website.
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