With most mosques across the country still closed due to the coronavirus, Muslim communities are finding creative ways to celebrate this weekend’s Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, while abiding by social distancing guidelines.
In Michigan, where a popular Ramadan lights Competition will end just before Eid, Muslims have organized a televised Eid service and celebration that they expect tens of thousands to tune in for. The celebratory programming, set to air Sunday morning (May 24) on local cable news and stream on social media, will begin with a live Eid sermon by the Muslim Unity Center’s Imam Mohamed Almasmari.
The Fiqh Council of North America has encouraged Muslims to perform the Eid prayers in their homes alone or with their own families. In a statement prepared by Imam Yasir Qadhi, the group encouraged mosques to broadcast Eid sermons, generally considered not obligatory, and advised families to follow the usual prophetic traditions of Eid: bathing, eating breakfast, wearing one’s best clothing and reciting the takbir in God’s praise.
The Qalam Foundation in Texas urged worshippers to do the same.
“We all have cherished memories of past days of Eid,” the group’s founder, Sheikh AbdulNasir Jangda, “However, we face the prospect of an Eid that is difficult and challenging. Similar to our mindset in Ramadan, we can and should find a way to have a joyous and meaningful Eid.”
But many of the traditional Eid experiences will be lost: worshippers praying in densely packed rows behind the imam, hugging friends and strangers alike as they exit the mosque, handing out candy and dollar bills to children, losing yet another pair of shoes to the tangled pile outside the prayer hall.
In Washington, the Muslim Association of Puget Sound will lead Eid prayers virtually before hosting a drive-thru celebration. Nearby, the Somali Family Safety Task Force will also arrange a drive-thru celebration with food, gifts and candy for families to pick up.
In Orlando, volunteers have organized a car decorating contest during local Muslims’ car parade.
“We want you all to get creative,” organizers said. “Get the kids involved, really show them that even though we won’t be able to congregate we can still have fun in other ways.”
In Connecticut, where a ban on gatherings of more than 250 people exempts religious services, Muslim leaders are nonetheless urging mosques to stay closed.
“Even though new cases of the virus are on a decline, the Muslims of the state do not wish to cause a spike in infection rates by large-scale communal gatherings,” said Tark Aouadi, executive director of CAIR-Connecticut. “As responsible citizens we want to encourage community members to do their part in helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus by practicing social distancing measures and this includes not gathering in large numbers at the mosque, community centers and public parks for Eid this year.”