Britain’s Eid al-Fitr celebrations have been hushed up for the second year in a row amid the challenge to hold the religious holiday with Covid restrictions in place.
The festival marks the end of Ramadan and usually begins with people attending the mosque for morning prayers, followed by family and friends gathering for a festive meal.
However, families and mosques have had to adapt again this year. The Muslim Council of Great Britain (MCB) urged worshipers to “take the utmost care in protecting our loved ones and observing public health guidelines.”
Mosques have sought to adapt their services to ensure Eid prayers are safe for Covid, limiting large gatherings indoors.
Imran Ahmed, president of Neeli Mosque, Rochdale, said: “Eid is about visiting friends and family and sharing love, hugging people, shaking hands and s ‘hugging, all the things we haven’t been able to do this year.
“We’re the only mosque in Rochdale to have had four services this morning, but we still had to fire 50 or 60 people because social distancing meant we didn’t have enough space. Normally we can accommodate over 750 people, but today we were at 300. ”
In addition to running smaller services, the Neeli Mosque has reduced the length of its morning prayers to minimize the time worshipers spend inside.
More than 300 people gathered at Cardiff Castle to celebrate Eid in the first of nine pilot events to test the crowd gatherings in Wales, the largest outdoor event in the country since March 2020. The event was organized by the Muslim Council of Wales, Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government. Next month, musical, sporting and cultural events will follow in Wales.
Abdul-Azim Ahmed, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Wales, was at the castle with his two-year-old son, Jalal, and was impressed that the gate checks had been thorough. “The Welsh Muslims have had two Ramadans under lock and key. It has been an incredibly difficult time in which our usual prayers and devotion had to be altered to ensure that we are protecting each other. This event marks a light at the end of the tunnel, and the opportunity to do things again together and in common. We are very happy to be part of the pilot event. “
The Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham usually holds an Eid event in the park with around 60,000 people attending, one of the largest Muslim events in Europe. This year they have organized six socially distant Eid gatherings at the mosque, which is one of the largest in the UK, each with around 750 people.
“Everything was rigorously managed and people presented themselves with their face masks, following all precautions,” said Kamran Hussain, director general of the mosque. “People brought their own prayer rugs and we made sure there was plenty of ventilation. To make sure we were in control of the numbers, we effectively launched a registration app and then people had to show their tickets at the entrance. “
In Walsall, Mohammed Arif, acting president of the Union of Muslim Organizations, said people were relieved to be able to pray inside mosques this year, although the celebrations were quieter than usual due to rocket attacks and air strikes between Gaza and Israel.
“For Muslims, prayer is a collective thing, and especially when we pray together in the mosque, we stand side by side. To have this distance of two meters, it seems strange, it seems strange. So we look forward to the day when we will actually be side by side with the next person, ”he said.
MCB Secretary General Zara Mohammed said: “British Muslims have shown great determination and patience throughout this pandemic, especially during Ramadan for the past two years, as we have adapted to innovative ways to observe the greatest occasions of our Islamic calendar.
“Many British Muslims will also have received their first or second dose of the vaccine during Ramadan. As we celebrate a #SafeEid, whether vaccinated or not, it is important that we continue to take the utmost care when protecting our loved ones and observing public health advice, while looking to the future with hope. , determination and faith.