Abu Dhabi: Congregational prayers are an important part of Eid celebrations for many families in the UAE. But this year, in times of coronavirus, the beloved Eid morning ritual will not be a part of the occasion.
Mosques across the UAE will continue to remain closed as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 outbreak, prompting families to undertake the worship at home.
“As a family, we always look forward to the prayers in the morning. My three daughters put on their finest clothes and we head to the mosque. We also have a tradition where we distribute sweets to other worshippers. So my daughters fill up a basket with chocolates and candies and we share them at the mosque. In turn, they receive little gifts of cash and sweets, which we call Eidiya, and end up with a sugar overdose,” Lubna Haggag, a 37-year-old media professional from Palestine, told Gulf News.
Tabassum Kazi, an academic supervisor from India, said she and her family will also miss the Eid prayers.
“We make it a point to go every single Eid, and we will miss the ritual this year,” she said.
The UAE closed mosques and other places of worship in mid-March to combat the spread of COVID-19. The closure has remained in place even as Muslim residents mark the holiest month of the year – Ramadan.
But residents are choosing to look at the positives, and replacing congregational activities with activities they can perform as a family, just as they have been doing for Ramadan acts of worship.
“The important thing is that we are safe and together, which is more than many other people can say at the moment. So my brother’s family will visit us and we will all offer the prayers at home,” Kazi said.
Religious scholars too have permitted the offering of Eid prayers at home in place of the congregational prayers at the mosque. But unlike the mosque-based prayers, they need not deliver the sermon that follows the prayers.
“We will even make up for the sugar overdose by including chocolates at home. It will be a different Eid overall, as it is the first time we will not be visiting the grandparents. But we will do our best to make it as enjoyable as possible,” Haggag said.
Zayed Alawi, an Emirati businessman who has recovered from COVID-19, said he too will pray at home.
“We are all staying home and staying safe, so we will pray in our houses as we wait for the situation to get better,” he said.
“We will definitely be praying for this crisis to end as we mark Eid,” Kazi added.