Byline: Imam Qari Asim, Chair Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board

“Muslims have had to make a lot of spiritual sacrifices during Ramadan and that will continue on Eid, the day of celebration that marks the end of the month of Ramadan

Muslims in Leeds have shown great fortitude and resilience during Ramadan in lockdown, observing social distancing guidance and staying away from the Mosque which is usually the hub of religious and social interaction during the month.

The Eid prayer is something that Muslims look forward to all year long. However, with Mosques remaining closed in line with Government guidance, no Eid Prayer will take place in mosques or open spaces, public parks, for the public this Eid. This is extremely challenging and distressing for us. There is a palpable sense of sadness in the community given that usually Mosques are jam packed with people on this auspicious day.

In normal circumstances, I would greet and hug hundreds of people on Eid day. Some people travel over twenty miles to come to our Makkah Mosque in Leeds, to meet people and be part of the communal celebrations.

This is the first time in British Muslim history when there will be no public Eid Prayer. Even when there were no Mosques in most cities and towns in the 1960s, people would hire large halls to offer the Eid Prayer in congregation. Now although we have Mosques in every major town and city, they are closed to the public.

This is something that was totally unthinkable six months ago, but today the unthinkable has become reality.

“Usually, on Eid I would visit over a dozen houses to join their celebrations and have a bite to eat with them. Instead, this Eid I am planning on baking cakes with my family and then dropping them off to those houses in the community that I would usually visit and also those living in isolation, keeping a social distance of course.”

In-line with the published advice from the Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), on the one hand I am reassuring the Muslim community that the doors of the Mosques are closed for everyone’s well-being and the protection of life and stemming the spread of Covid-19; on the other hand, I am also urging people not to dampen the spirit of Eid; British Muslims must find that Eid spark and enjoy the festive at home.

Not being able to be with our loved ones this Eid will be painful but we’ve all got to just get through this in the best way we can. We will all be stronger in our relationships with one another and in our appreciation of the gift of life when we come out of the Covid-19 restrictions.

On Eid day, I will still dress up and provide spiritual reflection online, and connect with my congregation virtually. I will spend the day with my family but also virtually connect with the community- video calling members of my congregation, especially the elderly.

This year, Eid will be lonely for many people; although we may not be able to touch, hug or kiss our loved ones, we should ensure no one feels alone on this day of celebration.”