(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Eid-ul-Fitr also called the 'Festival of Breaking the Fast', is a religious day celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramazan, abstaining from the worldly charismas and desires but following the righteous way with prayers and compassion. The celebration reaffirms the ideals of piety, empathy, charity and solidarity among Muslims all over the world. It is celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm and affection. This is a celebration which marks fast to feast for those who obeyed God's rules and teachings of peace and harmony.
Though Eid is traditionally marked with wearing of the best new clothes, congregational prayers in mosques and fields (Eidgah) followed by celebrations and feasts amongst families and friends, Eid in the time of the coronavirus pandemic and Lockdown 4.0 will look significantly different. Places of worship have remained closed for at least nine weeks now and the latest lockdown guidelines with restrictions in large gatherings mean that prayers and celebration in masses are not possible. People have abstained from Eid shopping to stay at home and maintain social distancing in crowded places as per the safety guidelines.
Muslims across the globe have shown great resolve throughout Ramazan during the pandemic, adapting to a different way of life and making the best out of the month by staying indoors and isolated, attending virtual iftars with friends and family and live streaming religious services to their homes. The community across the country and globally has joined hands to contribute towards the larger cause of humanity by distributing essential food stuff, safety items, medicines and clothes, also conducting awareness campaigns throughout the pandemic lockdown to the needy. As ever, everyone's number one priority must be to help save lives and celebrating Eid at home is the best way to do this. Religion is a belief, a way of life. Every religion teaches and preaches humanity to love, care and help fellow citizens, especially in crisis.
Celebrating Eid away from the mosques/eidgahs and isolated from loved ones is unprecedented and will be a source of great sadness in communities across the country and worldwide. Muslims will adapt and find the best way to still celebrate this holy day whilst respecting, adhering and aligning to the latest guidelines issued during the pandemic. Muslims will have to offer Eid prayers within their households and virtual gatherings can be arranged to still stay connected with loved ones.
In Islam, obedience to the law of the land is a religious duty. The Qur'an commands Muslims to remain faithful not only to Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, but also to the authority they live under. Any country or government that guarantees religious freedom, security and safety to followers of different faith must be owed loyalty. The Prophet Muhammad stressed this point when he said: "One who obeys his authority, obeys me. One who disobeys his authority, disobeys me."
A true Muslim can never raise his voice or act in hatred against his fellow citizens, nor for that matter defy the rules against the ruling authority or government of the time which ensures dignity. It is the responsibility of a true Muslim that he should remain loyal and fully abide by the laws of the land of which he is a subject. This makes clear that according to Islam Muslims must obey the law of the land for safety and security. Anything to the contrary would mean that they are not obeying their Prophet or their religion.
Muslims are hence being encouraged to celebrate Eid in the same way as Ramazan from home, and virtually with friends and family. The special prayers for the day of Eid – usually prayed in mosques or in Eidgah – may be prayed within households and family, with gifts exchanged by post and the celebration to be shared virtually. We should use this holy day to pray for the safety of our citizens, communities, countries and especially the key frontline workers for a swift victory against this pandemic.
The pandemic has shrunk the world and brought citizens, communities and countries closer, made them more caring and connected. Let us pray that the festival ushers love, tolerance, unity, compassion, positivity and safety amongst the human civilization and fosters universal brotherhood.