EID AMIDST PANDEMIC!
We are in the last days of Ramadan. The end of Ramadan is marked by the festival – ‘Eid-ul Fitr’ an Islamic festivals of great significance. Eid – means merriment and Fitr – means breaking a fast; it is a day of joy celebrated on the first Shawal- month that follows Ramadan- as per the Islamic Calendar. Like every other festival, Eid is characterized by festivity for which preparations start much before the Eid day (s) and involve activities including cleaning and decorating the house, inviting friends and relatives, shopping, etc.
The Eid prayer that is usually held openly in Eid-Gah (open-air enclosure reserved for Eid prayers) makes the essence of this festival. But, since last year, we are on a precipice because of the pandemic and situation is much worse this time. The 2nd wave of the Corona virus has not only affected more people and caused more fatalities; it has also influenced us mentally and economically. And this time Eid-celebration would not be different from the previous year when people celebrated Eid indoors and couldn’t even offer the special prayers.
However, it is important not just in the opinion of the administration and the religious scholars but also in view of the Sharia (religious code) that in view of a pandemic like this, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) need to be followed and people can offer prayers at home. Most of the religious schools of thought have approved of the idea that in a pandemic, it is advisable to ask people to refrain from crowding and to stay indoors.
Truth be told, our health system is tested severely and there are fissures appearing from the structural parameters of this sector. As of now, there is no cure for this disease, except precautionary measures which again highlights the importance of celebrating festivals while strictly following guidelines.
Normally, Eid, like any other festival, is associated with a large crowd; however, this time we need to be cautious and understand the gravity of the situation. We must keep the example of ‘Kumb’ like crowds in mind which was later declared as a ‘super spreader’ event.
The devastation that Covid has caused in the capital – Delhi and other states is not less than a warning for us. Keeping the religious zeal aside, the need of the hour is to act sensibly. Let us not make this Eid cause of worry and a point of controversy, it is a blessed day and we should maintain its sanctity, this time by following SOP’s, and expertly advises religiously.
Leading doctors and experts have already warned against congregations and importantly scholars have agreed to it. They have stressed upon people to adhere to protocols. This Ramadan, Saudi Arabia, suspended the practice of Iftar spreads and performing Itikaf (a spiritual practice in which Muslims spend long hours at mosques) besides following protocols during other prayers. Eid prayers and celebrations will also go in the same way under strict rules. In Pakistan also, religious leaders did not hold gatherings like ‘Congregational Itikaf’. Most of them also refrained from holding ‘Shab-e-Qadr’ gatherings and have the same view about Eid. Indian Muslim scholars are of the same mind. There is consensus among Muslim scholars across the world on the Covid-guidelines. This indicates there is nothing wrong with following covid regulation. Covid rules neither are against Islam nor should be treated as ‘curbs on religious freedom’. It is meant for protection.
When precautions are to be followed in obligatory Eid-prayers, the least important – Eid Shopping, which also leads to the crowd, cannot be justified. It automatically stands canceled. However, we need to shop, and while doing so we must ensure covid-protocols are not flouted. As mentioned earlier we need to be very sensible in our approach.
The prevailing situation demands us to be austere in celebration. People have lost jobs due to pandemics. Daily wagers like street vendors, drivers, laborers, even beggars are unable to earn. A covid crisis has reduced many to a state of destitution. In these circumstances, philanthropists have an important role. The well-heeled people need to come forward for these poverty-stricken.
Having sumptuous food would momentarily satisfy your taste buds but helping the destitute in the ongoing crises will please your Allah. We need to exercise simplicity, stop extravagance, and try to enable indigents to be a part of the festivity that is possible only through our financial and food support. Let us take care of ourselves and others so that we could defeat this pandemic and its adverse effect. This will to greatest service to humankind in these testing times.