When I think of the Eid, my mind automatically projects images of large family gatherings, my father’s traditional brunch attended by friends and neighbours and the happy faces of children running around holding on to their ‘eidiah’, the money given to them by grown-ups on the morning of Eid.
But this Eid Al Fitr is very different. Social distancing, although a must nowadays, has taken the spirit out of the otherwise joyous occasion. My small family is celebrating this Eid at home. The boys will be on their computer stations all day, I guess. They did exactly that in Ramadan. It is pity they will miss the usually cheerful occasion they have been waiting for all year.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed our way of life; forever, some say. And that could very well be an understatement. It has altered the way we go about our daily life, do our jobs, and engage with others. We have been hoping the crisis would end before the Eid. No such luck.
During this Eid, let us bring out the benevolent side in us and support the victims of the crisis. We can help them send something to their families.
Muslims have celebrated Eid even in the darkest chapters of their history. During wars, famine and plagues, people still marked this auspicious day with family meals, distributing sweets, and common prayers. Today, as we shelter at home to fend off the vicious virus, it is one for the records. History will record that in the year 2020, Eid was muted. People avoided shaking hands with their neighbours. Eid congregations in the mosques, which for most is the highlight of the day, were cancelled, and the otherwise packed malls were quiet. Children playgrounds in the city were closed and cinemas and restaurants were off limits.
However, I take some consolation in the fact that I am at home with my family during the Eid. Therefore, we decided we must enjoy the occasion. Although we will be confined to our house, we will have a barbecue and the Eid sweets afterwards. And perhaps we will sing few Eid songs too. We have decided that the coronavirus must not spoil our delight today.
On the other hand, I cannot stop thinking of those expats whose Eid have been ruined this year. Many are used to travelling back home during the occasion to be with their families. Travel is restricted so they unfortunately will have to be content with video calls this Eid. I cannot even imagine how they must feel today.
Some of these expats have lost their jobs or been forced to take long unpaid leave. Without the income, they are unable to send money or Eid gifts to their families back home. Some have pre-booked their holiday tickets well before the coronavirus struck.
Small gifts make a difference
They need our support. Eid is about sharing the joy, but these people are being forced to mark the occasion alone. It would be nice if we share the joy with them as much as we can — small gifts that make a difference for them. It is in our hands to let the less fortunate among us feel some sort of an Eid spirit this week.
The pandemic stormed in unannounced. It wreaked financial havoc globally. But it should not be allowed to spoil our Eid. It must not be allowed to impair our sense of community. During crises, the goodness in us shines through. Eid is another opportunity to show our humanitarian side — to show our charitable side towards those in need. Towards those who live among us but lost big in this crisis. They should not be left alone to fend off the cruel effects of the outbreak.
This Eid, although subdued, could very well become a turning point in our struggle to overcome the pandemic. While sticking to the health guidelines and precautions; to celebrate Eid and share its joy with the less fortunate would on the other hand reflect our shared will to overcome the psychological impact of the coronavirus.
During this Eid, let us bring out the benevolent side in us and support the victims of the crisis. We can help them send something to their families. The triumph over the psychological effect of the pandemic is the first step in defeating this invisible enemy. The first sign of a new world without COVID-19.
The great Arab poet Abu Al Tayyib Al Mutanabbi who lived in the 11th century was not a happy person. He lived in the decades of inter-Arab conflicts and strife. His works, considered by most as the greatest pieces of literature in the Arab history, reflect his struggle and endeavours to unite the Arabs’ scattered little states and regain their past glory.
One of his eternally quoted poems is the one he wrote about Eid, where he says: Oh Eid, in what way you have returned. With the same sorrow or this time, you will be the sign of a new beginning. He hoped that the following Eid would see the realisation if his aspirations and ambitions.
Today, we too are hoping that this Eid would be a sign for the good days to come, to see the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic so that we can celebrate the next one with family and friends.