From the time when most countries were firmly in the grip of pandemic in April, Coronavirus has disrupted important events of the Muslim world’s religious and social calendar, keeping people indoors, preventing the faithful from performing their most sacred duties and dampening festivities.
Ramadan was without community iftars and mosques were shut, Eid Al Fitr festivities became a family-only event and Hajj has been restricted to a thousand worshippers.
The UAE’s National Authority for Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management on Wednesday announced similar restrictions for Eid Al Adha. Prayers are to be performed at home, animal sacrifices to be made through charities, gatherings and family visits are not allowed as part of precautionary protocols.
In the UAE, the new set of restrictions are coming at a time when the country appears to be on track to flatten the disease curve, positive cases are declining and recoveries are impressive. Still, the country’s health authorities are not ready to take chances, telling citizens and residents to celebrate Eid Al Adha responsibly
These steps are in line with measures adopted by the UAE and other Islamic governments since the beginning of the holy month of fasting. For example, Oman has declared a complete lockdown from July 25 to August 8.
Precautionary measures during mass outbreak of diseases are not new to the Muslim world and religious documents quote Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) as saying 1400 years ago: “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”
Adopt a cautious approach
He also advised his companions to value their lives and stay away from pandemic hit regions. Imposing public restrictions during religious festivals is tough but are absolutely essential for public safety.
Countries in the region have learnt from recent experiences of the nations where coronavirus returned with a vengeance after restrictions were eased or lifted.
In the UAE, the new set of restrictions are coming at a time when the country appears to be on track to flatten the disease curve, positive cases are declining and recoveries are impressive. Still, the country’s health authorities are not ready to take chances, telling citizens and residents to celebrate Eid Al Adha responsibly.
While these steps may impact the economy and limit social freedoms, the restrictions are a bitter pill that we all must have to swallow.
Eid Al Adha is the commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s act of obedience to Allah who commanded him to sacrifice his son, Ismail. When the prophet was about to sacrifice his son, Allah offered him a sheep. This ritual is followed by Muslims who sacrifice animals and distribute it to the poor and relatives.
Today, when a tiny microbe is threatening the mankind, this sacrifice has acquired a new meaning. Next week, the followers of Islam celebrating Eid Al Adha will be sacrificing personal liberties and rituals associated with the festival, valuing public safety over everything else.