A different feeling indeed, as we pass yet another Eid since the Corona pandemic stopped the world in its tracks. Many of our community members, including myself, were ready to be in Makkah and Madinah to perform Hajj. Unfortunately, that did not happen because of the COVID-19 virus.
Eid is not to be celebrated in the usual way that we are used to. As with Eid Al-Fitr, there are no Eid prayers at the Tinley Park Convention Center in 2020. Places like convention centers meant for large gatherings are not to be opened until phase five according to the state of Illinois COVID-19 regulations.
The limited space we have at our Masjed will only hold very few numbers with social distancing practices. And with the wave of new cases again on the rise, including within our own community, we decided that the best option would be not to risk the health and safety of our beloved community by attending a large gathering, so sadly, Salatul Eid will not be held at the Prayer Center. Many Mosques in our area followed us in this difficult decision as well, including Mosque Foundation and Mecca Masjid.
This setback should not make us any less joyful about this great Day of Eid. We are to celebrate the blessings of the first ten days of Zul-Hijjah through the remembrance of Allah and many good deeds. The following are some thoughts on the concept of Eid that should always stay with us.
The word Eid in Arabic means: a gathering of a group at any day. It is also related to the meaning: to return which indicates that this day returns again every year. From an Islamic perspective, the two Eids are meant to be celebrated, commemorating two major yearly events. Eidul-Fitr, or the celebration of breaking fast, comes on the first day of Shawwal after fasting the month of Ramadan, and Eidul-Adha, or the celebration of sacrifice, comes on the tenth day of Zul-Hijjah after finishing the major acts of Hajj, such as standing in Arafah for pilgrims.
The month of Zul-Hijjah is the last on the Islamic calendar, so as it ends, we are to welcome the new Hijri year of 1442. Between the ritual of Hajj in Zul-Hijjah and the fasting of the Day of Ashura’ on the tenth of Muharram, we remember to end a year with an act of worship and begin a new year in an act of worship too. The month of Muharram is included among the sacred four months (Muharram, Rajab, Zul-Qida and Zul-Hijjah), and it is the month that Allah (SW) delivered prophet Musa to freedom from pharaoh. Our last prophet and messenger Muhammad (SAAW) made it a day of fasting for us to celebrate this history.
Muslims all around the world, even if they cannot join Hajj, can offer the Udhia to take part of the celebration that will help poor and needy people worldwide. Udhia sacrifice can be offered during all days of Eid, so for those who did not act on it yet, you still have time to offer this Sunnah and help bring joy and nourishment to the poor, many of whom only have meat once a year through your generosity. There are numerous humanitarian relief organizations that offer this service and distribute the sacrifices to virtually every country in the world for reasonable and affordable prices. I suggest to visit their websites as soon as possible so you can take part in this amazing blessing.
The Eid spirit should always be celebrated with family, especially with children. Although we only have limited options available for activities or places to go because of Corona virus, this does not mean you cannot bring the Eid spirit and celebrations to your home. Be creative and try to enjoy quality time with family even if it’s just a backyard BBQ or some games and gifts. This is especially important for children to feel the joy and happiness of the holiday even if it’s not the regular Eid they are used to.
Lastly, as the saying goes, sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone. This is a time for reflection. We are a blessed community, and being a blessed community means sometimes taking those blessings for granted, like gathering for Eid Salah. The sadness we feel now when we don’t have it should make us always remember the blessings we have and be grateful for them. We pray that this pandemic will end soon and that we will be able to get back to the normal life we are used to.
Eid Mubarak and May Allah protect us all, Ameen.
By Sh Kifah Mustapha