For Qassim Abdullah, this year’s Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr marked a bit of a milestone: Now fully vaccinated, the 66-year-old ﬁnally felt comfortable enough to return to his mosque for the Eid prayer on Thursday, his ﬁrst time back since the start of the pandemic. “It’s overwhelming and exciting,” the Maryland resident said. “It’s very nice to see the community. …It’s just a beautiful feeling.”
There were changes: He wore two masks and didn’t stand shoulder-toshoulder with other worshippers as he normally would have during prayers. But Eid still felt more celebratory than last year.
“It is deﬁnitely much better,” he said. “I don’t think it is very close to normal (yet) but it’s going that way. At least we’re going out of our houses.” Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Traditionally, people gather for prayers, visit family and friends and huddle together around festive meals.
CLOSER TO NORMAL
Once again, Muslims are seeking ways to balance the holiday’s rituals with coronavirus concerns. But for those in America, even as they observe precautions, this year’s Eid comes as the pandemic eases its grip in the country amid ongoing efforts to put vaccine shots into more arms and chart a path back to normalcy.
It’s a contrast with many in other countries who are celebrating Eid al-Fitr in a subdued mood for a second year as the pandemic again forces varying restrictions.
In Utah, Dunia Wafai said her community’s Eid celebrations are inching closer to normal.
Before the pandemic, she said, her family would dress up, go to the mosque for morning prayer and socialize with other congregants and friends.
When the coronavirus put a halt to that, Wafai’s family, like many, got creative. They hosted a COVID-19-safe drive-by celebration and handed out popcorn, cotton candy and goody bags to people in their cars.
This year, she and her family are participating in communal Eid prayers and will be hosting a socially distanced celebration in their backyard on the weekend.
NO MORE VIRTUAL?
“To have people come and socialize and gather together, eat food together – this is really one of the biggest pleasures for us after this month long of fasting,” she said. “Eid is a really big deal for us.” At The Islamic Center of East Lansing, Michigan, the Eid al-Fitr celebration typically draws 4,000 to 5,000 people, so many that the center moves the event to a nearby convention center in neighboring Lansing, the state capital. Last year that was replaced by a virtual ceremony.
The center held Eid prayers Thursday with some changes. Masks were required, and people’s temperatures were taken at the door. Worshippers were asked to bring their own prayer rugs and bags for their shoes. Blue tape in the shape of an “X” marked the socially distanced spaces in which worshippers were to place their prayer rugs. And attendees had to preregister.