How Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha amid the coronavirus | Coronavirus pandemic news

Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, amid a coronavirus pandemic that has so far infected more than 16 million people worldwide.

Like the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday in May that followed the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to take precautions and alter the way they observe as a result of COVID-19 between July 30 and 4. August.

Under normal circumstances, Eid Day begins by meeting in a mosque in the morning to participate in prayers.

The Muslim Council of Great Britain (MCB) has published recommendations on its website that promote prayers outdoors and, if not, for multiple staggered prayer times indoors.

Sufficient time should be organized between congregations and khutbahs, or sermons, and should be kept short, the MCB advised. He added that Eid greetings should be given without hugging or shaking hands.

Much of the Eid celebrations consist of gathering with family and friends and sharing meals, but the MCB advised that it is best to keep the numbers to a minimum and meet outdoors.

Some mosques in Canada follow similar guidelines, with Jame Masjid of Toronto encouraging Muslims to reserve a place for prayer early in one of eight different time slots on their SMART Jamaat app.

Crimean Tatar Muslims pray at the Khan Grand Mosque on the first day of Eid al-Adha (Kurban Bayram) in the city of Bakhchisaray on October 4, 2014.

Crimean Tatar Muslims pray at the Khan Grand Mosque on the first day of Eid al-Adha (Kurban Bayram) in Bakhchisaray city in this 2014 file photo [Max Vetrov/AFP]

For those who cannot reserve time, the Bosnian Islamic Association (BIA) in Toronto said Muslims can still perform Eid prayers at home.

BIA advised Muslims to continue to follow the sunnah (practices of the prophet Muhammad) by dressing in the best clothes and reciting takbirs (Islamic phrases in Arabic that exalt God) as much as possible from Fajr (morning prayer before dawn) to prayer Eid.

After mosques closed for more than two months, including during Eid al-Fitr in May, Saudi Arabia announced that Eid prayers will take place inside mosques and not outside.

His Ministry of Islamic Affairs recommended adhering to the usual precautionary measures, such as maintaining two meters (six feet) of social distance and bringing his own prayer mat.

Much of the world has implemented social distancing as a basic measure, but in the embattled Gaza Strip, Palestinians say they will reunite with the family and celebrate Eid as usual, as there have been few cases.

According to the Gaza health ministry, as of Monday there were only five people infected with the coronavirus who were quarantined in the hospital. Seventy people have so far recovered from the coronavirus since the outbreak.

“So far we have zero coronavirus cases in Gaza [outside of the hospital]. That is why this will not affect how we celebrate; it will be the same, “said Al Jazeera Karama Fadel, 31, an Arabic language teacher from Gaza City.

He added that his brothers living in Turkey, Belgium and Morocco will not be able to celebrate as usual under the coronavirus measures.

“Here in Gaza we can celebrate, but unfortunately our families outside Gaza cannot celebrate like us and they cannot be with us,” Fadel said.

A Palestinian boy carries a goat on a farm where cattle are sold for the upcoming slaughter of Eid Al Adha, in the northern Gaza Strip

A Palestinian boy carries a goat on a farm where cattle are sold for the upcoming slaughter of Eid al-Adha in the northern Gaza Strip [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Distributing meat to the poor

An important part of Eid al-Adha is the Qurbani (or Udhiya), which means sacrifice. Cattle (goats, sheep, cows or camels) are sacrificed reflecting on the will of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham for Christians and Jews) to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ismael) for the good of God.

The meat is then donated to the poor, as well as to neighbors and relatives. Every Muslim with the financial means should give his share to the poor.

Many donate money to their mosque or local organization, who in turn buy livestock and distribute meat to millions of needy people around the world. All livestock must be treated hygienically and ethically.

The MCB advises that if shared Udhiya locally, for contactless returns.

Indonesia, which has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, issued a notice last month that congregational prayers and the slaughter of slaughtered animals are allowed in areas with low risk of coronavirus transmission.

Worker feeds animals with dry grass in a livestock store in Depok

A worker feeds animals with hay in a livestock pen as the coronavirus pandemic continues in Depok, outside Jakarta, Indonesia [Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters]

Other countries are also taking special precautions. In Hyderabad, India, a mufti issued a fatwa (legal opinion given by a qualified religious scholar) that Muslims can donate an equal amount of money to the poor instead of slaughtering an animal if they are unable to do so due to the pandemic.

Fatwa occurs when some fear that the coronavirus will spread if people visit markets to buy livestock or if they visit others when they distribute meat.

Pakistani authorities have banned the creation of small makeshift meat markets within cities and have banned the killing of animals in open spaces.

“I call on citizens to avoid visiting livestock markets and opt for online stockpiling of slaughtered animals this year,” Zafar Mirza, Pakistan’s top health official, said on Sunday.

Asad Umar, Pakistan’s planning minister and head of a coronavirus task force, said in a tweet in recent days “more than 500 illegal livestock markets have been closed” across Pakistan.

The World Health Organization released a list of guidelines this week, including naming a home in an area to perform the slaughter, whose members adhere to physical distancing throughout the process.