UK Muslims prepare to celebrate with online prayers
Muslims across Britain are preparing to celebrate Eid al-Fitr remotely this weekend, with many mosques set to host virtual prayers during continued lockdown measures.
The religious festival, which marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, usually brings families and friends together for communal prayers, food and to exchange gifts.
But this year community leaders are encouraging people to stay at home and adhere to social distancing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Shaz Saleem, the secretary of Dudley Central Mosque, in the West Midlands, said its Eid prayers would be held via a WhatsApp group.
“Our only guidance to people has been to stay at home, stay safe. There’s nothing stopping people from having a little garden thing at home with their household, but it’s not the same,” he said. “It’s like our Christmas … We’ve got elderly relatives, and we can’t go and see them because we don’t want to pose a risk to them. It’s quite unfortunate and sad in that respect.”
Saleem added that not being able to see loved ones would be a test for many after a difficult few months in which dozens of people from the community had died after contracting Covid-19.
Qari Asim, a senior Imam at Makkah Mosque in Leeds, said he would deliver an online Eid sermon, send best wishes to his congregation on Facebook and drop homemade cakes off to people in the community.
He said the situation was “really surreal” but Muslims had no other choice. “There is a palpable sense of sadness in the community given that usually mosques are jam-packed with people on this auspicious day.”
Other mosques, including the Islamic Centre in Nottingham, have offered guidance to people as to how to celebrate Eid at home via Facebook. Some, such as the Khidamat Centre in Bradford, have also been handing out gift packs to children whose families are struggling financially.
The Muslim Council of Britain has urged people to celebrate Eid “in the same way as Ramadan: from home”.