The Coronavirus pandemic prayed in the collection and quickly broke with loved ones from the table, leaving many alone this holy month.
And now that Ramadan has ended, Eid al-Fitr, one of the most festive holidays in Islam, will be a bleak affair, just like the month before it.
A three-day holiday Muslims celebrate to mark the end of the fast, Eid al-Fitr, or “festival to break the fast” in Arabic, will fall over Memorial Day weekend this year, ranging from May 24-26.
If it was any other year, this would be a time of unlimited excitement and celebration of coming through a difficult month. It would be a three-day feast of gift giving and gorging on food. Of visits to loved ones. To tithe the less fortunate.
But this year is different.
This is the year when the world unexpectedly stopped, causing an accident to what is one of the happiest times in the Muslim calendar.
Eid al-Fitr in the US episode of Covid-1
9: interrupted prayers and plans
In New York, the epicenter of the virus in the United States, Eid will isolate especially this year.
Mazhar Ladji, a product manager who moved to New York from India four years ago, looked forward to attending morning prayer on the first day of Eid in Washington Square Park with the Islamic Center at New York University. But the annual prayer was canceled this year because of Covid-19.
“It felt like a festive get-together in Washington Square Park, dressed in our best clothes and greeting each other after prayer,” said Ladji, who also previously attended a brunch after prayer with other Muslims. “There will be no prayers, no brunch and no hugs.”
This year, a Zoom call will replace the congregation’s outdoor prayer for Ladji.
Ladji is not the only Muslim in New York who had to change his plans.
About this time each year, Sarah Moawad would usually pack her bags to go to Massachusetts to spend Eid with her family. This year, Moawad lives in his apartment in Harlem with his roommate, who is also a Muslim.
“Me and my roommate are still trying to brainstorm ways to make Eid festive this year,” Moawad said. “Maybe a little picnic on our roof or in the park,” said Moawad.
Naoual Elidrissi, a bookkeeper for a small food company living alone in Queens, plans to spend Eid in the same way she spent Ramadan: alone.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Elidrissi, who lives 10 minutes away from her elderly parents but does not visit them for fear of spreading the virus.
Eid al-Fitr is usually a very exciting time for Elidrissi, who has a very large family in New York.
“Every year we dress up for the Nines and visit our entire family in Brooklyn and Queens. Then my cousins and I go out on a night of dancing,” Elidrissi said. “This year, I’m probably just going to FaceTime my family.”
Celebrate Eid while fighting the virus
For Mohamed Madboly, things are a little more complicated this year.
Mohamed Madboly, who is quarantined with his parents, aunt and cousin in his Queens home, has not been able to spend Ramadan with his three siblings on Long Island as he usually does. Both he and his parents tested positive for coronavirus, which meant seeing his siblings over FaceTime was the only option this year.
“When I saw my youngest niece crawl for the first time on FaceTime, it really got me,” Madboly said of her eight-month-old niece, Nelly. “It made me feel like we’re in different countries when she’s really only 10 minutes away.”
Madboly and his family still hope to spend Eid in his sister’s garden on Long Island as they do every year. To do this safely, Madboly and his quarantined family members have taken Covid-19 tests which they hope will come back negative in time for the holiday.
We ask that all five of us test negative, “Madboly said.” It would be a perfect time to see the rest of the family and celebrate because we couldn’t sit at an iftar together this Ramadan. “
Preparing for the worst, hoping for the best
For many Muslims this year, Eid al-Fitr is a painful reminder of happier times.
But even in seemingly gloomy times, perspective is everything.
“Yes, that’s not the best case, but we have to be grateful,” Elidrissi said. “We’re still alive, right? At least we have it.”
“It’s sad, but the crisis requires us to act responsibly … and remain hopeful for better days,” Ladji said.