UK Mus­lims pre­pare to cel­e­brate with on­line prayers

The Guardian - - News | Coronaviru­s - Amy Walker

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”.

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