What will Eid al-Fitr look like in 2021?
Kennedy Vincent dives into how the pandemic has affected Muslim holidays such as Ramadan and Eid al Fitr, and how one young Muslim woman in the United States, Aiman Murtaza, is adapting to keep her faith grounded despite uncertain times.
An Eid With Connections Lost
It is the morning of Eid al Fitr, the alarm clock is ringing, and everyone is waking up. Families are getting ready, and dressing in their Sharara Suit, Kurta, and other traditional clothing. “Every year we always say, we are going to be early this year but always end up late,” Aiman Murtaza remembers. “But this year was different, this year the connection felt lost,” she said of the latest Eid in late May.
“Eid gives me a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself. That the world has a lot more to offer than the negativity that we’re constantly surrounded by. Eid gives us a chance to look around and be grateful for our blessing, and most importantly to share our blessings with those who don’t have the same as us,” Murtaza, 21, who was born in Pakistan and raised in California, explained.
But this past Eid was unlike any other. “You couldn’t go to the mosque, like you normally would. On Eid there’d be hundreds of people coming to the mosque for five prayers a day. A lot of elderly people attend the Mosque, and not only is it difficult to navigate technology; but now our community and social interactions were lost.”
Some Thought of “Doom”
Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month in the Islamic/ Lunar calendar, this year it took place on May 24, 2020. Eid al-Fitr is a month that involves fasting, worship and prayer during Ramadan. Muslims praise the Prophet Muhammad and people greet each other with “Eid Mubarak,” meaning “Blessed Eid”.
Dishes are prepared at home and gifts are given to those who are in need, and the community connects.
This year everything shifted. Some believed that the cancellation for in-person prayer due to COVID meant doomsday is near. “Some people thought what have we done wrong to deserve this, but this experience is to become more grateful for the things that we do have, not in a sense that doomsday is here,” Murtaza said. “We need to be more grateful for the things we have, our family, our loved ones, our jobs, our livelihood, our social lives.”
After prayer at the Mosque, normally you go home and finish making the food you have been prepping for a day or two. Big meals and smiles are always seen with families. This year, special food and visiting friends and family took a different course of action with social distancing.
The Power of Fasting as a Collective Routine
“You break your fast on Eid wherever you are. If I’m at home I’ll eat a date, to emulate the Prophet’s actions, or if I’m at the mosque I will break my fast there. The times change based on the sunset,” Murtaza said.
Children, pregnant women, elderly, and or the sick are not expected to fast.
“Breaking your fast feels really great, everyone feels like a big family gathering together to share our blessings. This is a time for bonding. Fasting becomes less of a task and more of a routine, more focus ends up on prayer, community, family, and togetherness. While fasting is super important, we don’t view it as an ordeal, it’s more of a blessing that we get to partake in,” Murtaza said.
This once a year practice is meant to help people overcome accumulated toxic thoughts and negativities. Fasting from food does not only involve taking a break from eating, but is also meant to cleanse the mind, body and spirit. It’s also seen as an annual maintenance for the body’s system.
Coming to Terms with Precautions
“I feel like people have come more to terms that this is something we have to do, social distance and attending the Mosque on Zoom. We have to take the right precautions,” Murtaza said. Eid al-Fitr is scheduled to end on May 13th next year, with the pandemic expected to still be with us.
“By making it to next Eid, it is so powerful and it is to be honored, that you are still here,” Murtaza said. “That in itself is a blessing that you have been given another year.”