Even Though We Are Apart, This Eid We Will Be Together In Our Struggle

Although I am saddened, I am encouraged that many of us will find creative and safe ways to celebrate Eid, writes Mariam Khan.
Family celebrating Eid al-Fitr and asking for forgiveness
Family celebrating Eid al-Fitr and asking for forgiveness
Afriandi via Getty Images

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I have always viewed Ramadan as a way to earn the day of Eid. A day of celebration; where families come together, too much is consumed, Eid prayer is done in congregation and maybe a short trip to the funfair to entertain the kids also takes place, with the staple evening activity for my family being a trip to the bowling alley. I would like to gloat that last year my team won.

For me, over the last few years, Eid prayers in our local park, where over 106,000 Muslim men and women turned up last year to pray together in congregation is the best part. As a huge community with so many shades and different opinions it can be difficult to constantly be one, but Eid prayer each year makes me realise the strength of unity in our community. Standing within a sea of these people, who are dressed in their finest clothes, with chaotic children still running around as a drone flies up ahead and we all follow the imam in prayer, my mind and heart feels at peace.

In the time of Covid-19, this congregation would be beyond irresponsible. In a statement, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Harun Khan said: “As ever, everyone’s number one priority must be to help save lives and celebrating Eid at home is the best way to do this. We use this holy day to pray for the safety of our communities and our key workers and a swift end to this pandemic.”

“This Eid will be one where we are all together in our struggle and that’s what will make is manageable even if we still feel alone.”

Although I understand the importance of staying at home and keeping our communities safe and know that in the grand scheme of things this isn’t much to sacrifice. To me, the loss of Eid prayer is like a child waking up to no presents under the Christmas tree on Christmas day. As much as Eid day is a celebration and I want to celebrate it, I know I will be saddened to lose this part of it.

Muslim Council of Wales have released a dos and do not guide for Eid. They have advised not to: go to the mosque, visit family or friends, or not to go to the park or public places to congregate.

Islamically, the sunnah of Eid encourages us to call out takbiraat, to be clean, to dress up, to pray, to exchange well wishes with one another and to eat and drink. It isn’t a day that we should spend upset or unhappy. But I can’t help but feel the loneliness of Eid this year where many will celebrate alone, maybe won’t dress up, probably won’t see family and can’t be with the community.

I am reminded of the days that have just passed, of the way in which our faith has encouraged us to be grateful for even the smallest things. Although this Eid will be different and difficult we must protect our communities.

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that Black and Asian minority communities were disproportionately affected by Covid-19, with the risk of dying being twice as likely than it is for white communities. This data also showed that Black men were 4.2 times more likely to die from a Covid-19 related death and Black women were 4.2 more likely than those within the white community.

In a hadith, widely shared on social media since the beginning of the Covid-19 the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When you hear that a plague is in a land, do not enter it and if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place” further adding: “Do not place a sick patient with a healthy person,” according to the narration. This advice is timeless and essentially what we all know by now. Islam asks that we put our faith in Allah, that when a disease is sent, so is a cure. But we must also protect ourselves. We must, as we have been, do our part to not make things worse. Staying home this year isn’t a big price to pay if it means those most vulnerable within our communities can be safe.

I believe in our communities’ ability to adapt and overcome. During Ramadan there have been online iftars, halaqa classes (sisters only Quran classes), Friday night quizzes, workout sessions via Instagram live, online yoga classes, fundraisers for those in need in our communities, and so much more. All these new spaces have been created in response to keeping our community united in Covid-19.

So, although I am saddened, I am encouraged that many of us will find creative and safe ways to celebrate Eid. Whether it’s an at home barbecue, a make-shift bowling alley set up, arts and crafts with the kids, hide and seek around the house, a video call with all the family around the world, a quiz night among friends or even if it means cracking out a new pair of pyjamas and sitting down to have a Netflix binge. This Eid will be one where we are all together in our struggle and that’s what will make is manageable even if we still feel alone.

Mariam Khan is a writer and activist, and editor of It’s Not About the Burqa.


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