Recently we were hit with the news that Eid gatherings have acted as super spreaders amongst Muslim communities. How can we all keep safe?
According to the statistics, Muslims disproportionately made up Covid-19 deaths nationally in South Africa during the month of Ramadan. They make up only 1.9% of the population yet almost 5% of Covid-19 deaths in the country were suffered by the Muslim population in the month of June. It is said this leap was not the case last year, under stricter Covid restrictions, but since the relaxation of rules for mass gatherings in 2021. So, given the freedom we have to gather and celebrate this 'freedom day', how we can all keep safe during Eid this year?
Eid al Adha is one of the most widely celebrated Islamic celebration in the world, but this year, gathering en masse like we did in the past is unfathomable. Despite being described as 'Little Eid', Eid al Fitr was celebrated in Small Heath Park, Birmingham by over 140,000 people in 2018, while Eid al Adha's record number remains at 60,000.
Eid al Adha is often a smaller affair in the UK, due to many worshippers heading overseas to take part in the pilgrimage. With travel made unlikely this year, it could be the case that gatherings are bigger in 2021 than ever before, especially when with mass gatherings being permitted from the 19th of July - the first day of the feast.
A statement from the management of Victoria Park's Eid Prayer and Festival prepares worshippers for measures they must take; 'There will be no mass prayer sheets down and we ask that individuals bring their own individual prayer mats. We also request that hand sanitiser is used and this will be provided around the event". Keeping safe is a matter of public interest, and yet we must rely on individuals to take measures seriously, and this extends to keeping the size of the event as contained as possible.
Since Covid, we have all become much more aware of distance and more drawn to outdoor spaces. A way to ensure Eid can be celebrated safely is to take celebrations outdoors. Morocco has declared that all Eid al Adha prayers will be banned in Mosques this year, and plenty of governments across the world have announced that all feasts or meals must be consumed outdoors.
The essence of Eid celebrations is about giving back and appreciation. During Eid ul Adha, the religious sacrifice called Dhabiha is made, when the meat of a slaughtered animal is shared partly with the poor. This strive towards equality and kindness exemplifies our need for mindfulness in times of Covid. Who are we doing this for? Not only ourselves, but each other.
With this in mind, let's solidify our resolve in 2021 to conduct Eid celebrations with other peoples' safety at the forefront. As the MCB’s Secretary-General, Zara Mohammed said:
“British Muslims have shown great resolve and patience throughout this pandemic, especially during Ramadan for the last two years, as we have adapted to innovative ways of observing the biggest occasions in our Islamic calendar.
“Many British Muslims will have also received their first or second vaccine dose during Ramadan. As we celebrate a #SafeEid, whether vaccinated or otherwise, it is important we continue to take the utmost care when protecting our loved ones and observing public health guidance, whilst looking forward with hope, determination and faith.
“May we also use this blessed day to remember all those who have lost loved ones, our front-line key workers and pray for a swift and full recovery from the pandemic.”
Wishing you all a joyful and safe Eid Mubarak!