Pandemic, memories and appreciation: Muslims share what this year's Eid means to them

Pandemic, memories and appreciation: Muslims share what this year's Eid means to them
The New Arab asked Muslims what Eid means to them and how the pandemic has changed the way that they see the Festival of the Sacrifice.
6 min read
20 July, 2021
Eid prayers in London parks used to be a norm before the pandemic hit [Getty]

The pandemic and the subsequent coronavirus restrictions had turned the lives of people across the world upside down. It affected many aspects of life including Eid celebrations for the Muslim community. Pre-covid I would attend morning Eid prayers at my local mosque. My neighbours and I would exchange food and I would visit friends and family. I would travel to another city to have a day out. I along with so many others could no longer do the things I used to, including the most integral parts of Eid.

The pandemic had swayed me out of my usual daily routines and this carried on into Eid. The things I would usually do like getting dressed in one of my best outfits I couldn’t bring myself around to do. Eid is a very social event and so it felt strange not sharing it with my community and loved ones. It didn’t really feel like Eid at all. However, Eid, this year feels like the regeneration of hope. Mosques are open with social distancing measures, shops are open, and we can now dine in restaurants and visit loved ones.

During Eid al-Adha Muslims perform Qurbani in which they sacrifice livestock such as goats or camels. The meat is then distributed to the poor as well as neighbours and family. Many Muslims organise their Qurbani through Muslim charities or their local mosque.

This act commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail (Isaac) for the sake of God. As Ibrahim was about to kill his son, God told him that he had passed the test and to sacrifice a ram instead. Being charitable, whether through money or acts of kindness, is such a huge part of the faith and is especially encouraged during holy days like Ramadan and Eid and makes me think about those less fortunate.

Although Eid is a joyous time for many, for some Muslims it can be a sad and difficult time. Loved ones who once came to their homes to share food, stories and laughter with are no longer with them. Muslims who have converted to Islam can find Ramadan and Eid quite lonely as they have no family to share them with and this was all the more difficult for them last year when social contact was limited. 

Eid really highlights the family-like bond of the Muslim community. The New Arab asked Muslims what Eid means to them and how the pandemic has changed the way that they see Eid. Here’s what they said: 

Sarah Harris, freelance journalist/student UK

“The pandemic has really reminded me of the importance of family and spending time with your loved ones. In the past, I would find myself complaining about Eid and how boring it could be to see everyone again and do the same old things, but the pandemic really made me miss the traditions. From now on, I’m going to do my best to appreciate every Eid. Eid reminds us how much God has given us and why we need to appreciate our community.”

Halimah Begum, law student, UK

“Eid is important to me because it brings my family together, and because the celebration is an integral part of my faith. Spending Eid in a pandemic has made me realise how much I appreciate my family and spending time with them. Not being able to do that really made me realise how much I took that for granted.”

Aylin Boyar, secretary, Norway

“This year’s Eid al-Fitr (the Eid after Ramadan) the whole family gathered in separate groups to visit my grandparents. Last year we didn't celebrate Eid, so it made me much more hopeful for the future. I am looking forward to large gatherings again this upcoming Eid with all sorts of dishes and desserts. Eid is a time where money and objects don't matter. It is a time of love and laughter. It is a time for inner peace and greater connection with our creator.”

Nuradin Ali, Community Mental Health Nurse, UK

“Eid brings a sense of community and feelings of happiness, appreciation and contentment. Eid reminds me of when I was a child and how excited I used to get about Eid the night before. Somehow this has felt lost and it now feels that I can reconnect with this excitement. The free-spirited child in me can now come out again and feel safe to do so. What a gift to my children that I can share this spirit so freely and we can all love the magic that is brought with Eid.”

Razia, owner of Beau Accessories, UK

“On reflection, I realised I didn't celebrate Eid to my fullest as I was in autopilot every year with the same process. I never felt the need to do Eid decorations before, or even Ramadan decorations, but now I feel it is so essential, now I wonder why it never occurred to me before that I should decorate my home on this special occasion. Lockdown made me slow down. Instead of my usual routine, I have been used to my whole life I had the time to make changes, to realise I need to celebrate the special days of Eid to my fullest with my family and friends.”

Anmol Irfan, freelance journalist, Pakistan 

“Eid is very important because it has always been a time where my family comes together. Before Covid, my family would share a big dinner with my extended family. I come from a really big family and we are used to celebrations being really big. Not being able to do that last year and even this year’s Eid al-Fitr as Pakistan went back into lockdown, has made me value Eid a lot more.”

Sikander Khan, CEO of Paani Project charity, United States 

“When I think of Eid the first words that come into my mind are festivities, celebrations, family. But over the past few years I have seen Eid more as an opportunity for charity and to express your intentional gratitude for your privileges through zakat.”

Ines Sealy, Pharmacy graduate, UK

“Last year the sudden lockdown the night before Eid was quite a shock. This year I feel much more prepared but I still feel a little uneasy hosting Eid with many people. We will be enjoying a smaller celebration this year and I have come to prefer celebrating with my close family. We realised that it wasn’t necessary to have an overload of food and sweets. We can still enjoy ourselves without the excess.”

Yasmin Al-Najar is a freelance journalist covering a variety of different subjects including human rights, law, culture, social issues and social justice. 

Follow her on Twitter: @YasminAlnajar97