Keeping the Eid vibes flowing under lockdown
By Abida Siddiqi
Everyone looks forward to Eid Al Fitr after the month of Ramadhan, a celebration of coming together as a community and renewing friendships and family ties.
This year we all have to observe the Government’s rules on social distancing – so we can only meet with one person outside of our household and have to remain 2 metres apart; which means dinner parties and that plate of samosas we get from the neighbours is a no go! Muslim communities are at a higher risk of experiencing worse health outcomes, including hospitalisation and death from Covid-19, so it is vitally important that we take precautions to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities, and thankfully most of us are already doing this.
Feeling isolated and lonely on Eid during COVID-19 can be hard and may lead to mental health deterioration. It means some of us, or those we know, may experience frustration, sadness and anxiety about being out of touch with their normal social circles, community events and customs. Read on for our tips on how can we keep the Eid vibes flowing, whilst supporting our physical and mental health, and supporting those around us who may be struggling.
1. Keep communicating
Now more than ever, make the extra effort to reach out to family and friends on the phone or video call. Apps such as Skype, Zoom, Facetime, Imo and Whatsapp video calling are all free and accessible to anyone with a smart phone, computer, laptop or tablet. Make the effort to help others learn how to use these devices and applications if they are not familiar, especially grandparents and elders in the family who may not use them regularly and fall within the most vulnerable category.
2. Build Bridges and beat isolation
Helping another person and acts of kindness are not only encouraged Islamically, they also are proven to be effective in pulling people out of depression and loneliness, something which can happen to even the most resilient of us during times such as this. Eid is the perfect time to make that call!
If there’s a friend or relative you have not spoken to in a while, or have not had the opportunity to nurture a relationship, with now is time to do it. Ramadhan is a time of forgiveness; we are reminded that Allah is Al-Ghafur, “The Forgiving” and the Prophet (PBUH) narrated “whoever fasts during the month of Ramadhan out of sincere faith hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his/her past sins will be forgiven.”
So, pick up the phone, start a conversation and try not to get overwhelmed.
COVID-19 news can be depressing, overwhelming and with everyone's social activities curtailed it can be easy to focus only on those areas. Talk about plans, for example something you are planning to do in the near future, and use it as an opportunity to ask for forgiveness for what we may have done knowingly or unknowingly to others. It can boost your Iman, cleanse you spiritually and lift another person.
3. Fulfilling our obligations during Eid
On Eid Al-Fitr men usually perform Eid prayer in congregation (depending on school of thought/local mosque guidance). Usually this is done by paying Zakat al-Fitr to the local mosque, listening to the sermon prior to the prayer and attending the Eid prayer in the morning.
You can call out the Eid Takbiraat (proclamations) and perform an Eid congregational prayer at home with your family. You may also be able to listen to an online sermon, or even better, prepare one yourself for your household. You can get children involved in preparing an Eid sermon from a favourite Hadith or Quranic verse.
Many families have been praying in congregation at home during Ramadan and report that it has brought them closer.
Pay your Zakat al-Fitr online in advance: many local mosques have information on how to make online payments for these services. It is accepted as Zakat for the person who gives it before the Eid prayer; but it is a mere Sadaqah for the one who gives it after the prayer.” In modern day value Zakat al-Fitr is approximately £5 per person in the UK.
“The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) ordained Zakat ul Fitr to purify the fasting person from indecent words or actions, and to provide food for the needy.
4. Eid socials
This Eid you can connect, eat, pray, reflect!
If not shielding or in self or household quarantine, household members can go outside only with each other. We are not yet allowed to visit each other’s’ homes and it is important we don't do this, regardless of temptations! Here are some ideas to keep the sentiment of Eid socials and visitation customs alive:
Family bonding: By placing increased demands on our time and blurring work-life boundaries, modern life has challenged traditional family meals, a time of great blessing and connection. Use this time to sit down for a nutritious home cooked meal with your family to celebrate being together. Check in on how everyone is feeling and be grateful for what you all do for each other.
Host a virtual Eid social: Food is often the focus after a month of fasting and is also a part of doing something for the wider community. Through sharing food in local communities with family, friends and neighbours, as well as the poor and needy, we feel closer as a community. You can plan a video call whilst you are preparing food, share recipes and tips, send pictures and if you are on your own, sit down to eat at the “virtual dinner table”!
Virtual readings and reflections: You may also want to do collective virtual du’as (prayers) and Quran readings to add a spiritual boost. We may not be allowed to meet to read or recite together in person, but don’t let social distancing discourage you from sharing your recitation, learnings and teachings of the Quran during Ramadan and beyond. Do it over video calling; make du’a for each other and send positive affirmations, gratitude and well wishes which will boost your mood and others’ too!
5. Grooming and dressing up
It has been a topic of much debate over the past few years that buying something new for Eid is not mandatory and instead people should be donating money to charitable causes or those in need instead. With shops closed, it may be the perfect time to do this!
It is Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) to wear something nice on Eid. So, even if you are just at home on your own or with members of your household, or video calling relatives, make an effort to dress nicely on Eid. If you have new clothes enjoy them, and if not, wear something nice with the intention to please Allah All Mighty. Don’t forget, you can still wear your best clothes and perfume at home as you normally would on Eid.
We all like to look and feel good for the big day of Eid, and preparations are incomplete for many without a trip to the barbers’ or beauty parlour! Due to social distancing, all of these services should not operate. You may want to instead think of doing a little pampering session at home with what you have already (items hiding at the back of kitchen cupboards work wonders!) and maybe you can try a new adventure with a pair of scissors!
6. Don't forget to say Eid Mubarak!
Lastly, don’t forget to say Eid Mubarak to everyone!
Whatever you do, stay safe. In cases of infectious diseases, the Prophet (peace be upon him), restricted travel and instructed people to quarantine themselves in order to limit the spread of the disease. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you hear that there is a plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it (plague) visits a land while you are therein, do not go out of it.
We hope these tips help you have an enjoyable yet socially distanced Eid this year. May Allah All Mighty reward us all for our efforts during Ramadan, forgive us for our shortcomings and protect us from Covid-19 physically, mentally and spiritually.
Abida Siddiqi is a qualified tax professional working for a multinational company in central London. She is a health and wellness enthusiast who enjoys blogging about healthy eating, and social and cultural wellbeing issues in the context of Islam. You can find her on Instagram enjoying the occasional slice of chocolate cake @abida.siddiqi.3