Eid Al Fitr came upon us a couple of days ago and yet around the world, the celebrations were muted. It is the day after the culmination of the month long fasting of Ramadan for Muslims around the globe. In days gone by, it was a celebration that began with special morning prayers, followed by people greeting each other in a warm embrace of brotherhood with the expression of “Eid Mubarak,” meaning “Blessed Eid”.
It was then followed by large family get-togethers with savoury dishes to be enjoyed, and gifts and money to be given to the children, each of whom would be wearing their new clothes and shiny new shoes. The less fortunate are also not forgotten as people generally bestow what they can financially upon those in need. There would be music and fireworks late into the night and families would regale in fun and laughter.
But this year it has been different. The celebrations do not carry the same zing of cheerfulness and festivities of days gone past and there are many reasons for it. One cannot help ignoring the spread of the pandemic due to the Coronavirus in some parts of the world and particularly in India, where the callousness of politicians has led to a runaway death toll that experts are claiming to be much higher than the more than quarter-million deaths reported so far.
We have seen visuals of bodies floating down the Ganges for want of a decent burial. By allowing large-scale religious gatherings and political rallies for the masses, BJP government in India has increased the risk for the pandemic. This man-created toll in human suffering was simply inhuman.
In the United States, the virus is slowly being arrested with the current government’s push towards providing vaccination to the masses, a far cry from a year ago when the then US President initially dismissed the pandemic as a hoax. More than half a million people died because of the careless early approach to tackling a real threat. Today the vaccine has become a political issue with many US leaders not promoting the call for their constituents to get vaccinated against the virus.
All through Ramadan, in the midst of their prayers and religious musings, Muslims were constantly barraged by the news of higher death tools, of bombings, of senseless death and carnage, so much so that it was too hard to keep one’s self immune from it all. Try as much as they did, bad news was everywhere.
Much closer to home the flare-up that threatens to spread into a full-blown war between the Israelis and Palestinians took off when Palestinians were interrupted by Israeli forces during their special prayers in the last nights of Ramadan in Jerusalem’s holy site. This has led to an increase in violence with no end in sight except more spilt blood. Once again, it is the political will that keeps such feuds going on and for their sinister purposes.
Mike Ghouse, an American of Indian origin and president of the US-based NGO Center for Pluralism perhaps stated it best when he penned a piece titled: ‘I cannot say Eid Mubarak!’ he goes on to state his reasons …
‘Millions are dying with COVID. Persecution of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and other minorities continues unabated worldwide ... No minority is spared in most places. The attack on the sanctity of a religious place like the Al-Aqsa Mosque is shameful. I don’t feel like celebrating Eid — Instead I will meditate on pluralistic solutions.’
‘What kind of societies would the Palestinians and Israelis be? What kind of society would India be? Would they be normal human beings or people seething with hate, anger, and a generation of uncivilised people? Do we want that?’
Indeed, what kind of a future are we mapping out for tomorrow’s generation? One filled with hate and anger for the injustices of today? Where celebrations are intermingled with sorrow. Is that what we really want?
— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena