Nairobi News

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Eid celebrations like no other amid coranavirus pandemic

This year’s celebration of Eid al-Fitr, was like no other before it. With mosques across the country closed and social gatherings prohibited due to the coronavirus pandemic, Muslims on Sunday marked the end of the Holy month of Ramadan mostly indoors.

Under normal circumstances, Eid al-Fitr – the ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast – a religious holiday which marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan, is normally one of the most joyous holidays for Muslims.

FESTIVALS

Eid prayers, family gatherings and outdoor festivals usually marks the end of Ramadan.

This year, though, Eid prayers in mosques or in the open air were cancelled due to the pandemic. So too were large gatherings of family, friends and neighbours.

Muslims, just like other Kenyans, are grappling with disruption of their normal activities occasioned by the outbreak of the virus.

A day that is usually a time for visiting friends and shopping was marked with muted celebrations.

Customary Eid celebrations would involve buying new clothes to wear at meals and to the mosque, purchasing gifts for family and friends.

All that has not been possible this time, because of reduced cash flow due to pay cuts and in worst cases, loss of jobs.

Eid prayers, which have been a communal affair, have had to be performed at homes, just as would have been in the mosques, but without Khutba (sermon), which is delivered by an Imam in the mosque.

Eid prayers this year have been as simple as offering any other regular daily prayers.

The festival has been low key with mosques, which are usually jam-packed, virtually empty.

VIRTUAL MEETINGS

Apart from the communal prayers, the end of Ramadan usually brings families and friends together for food and to exchange gifts.

With no social gatherings and travelling largely restricted, most Muslims have had to celebrate Eid in the comfort of their homes with less than five people mostly.

Most families opted for virtual meetings on WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, and Facebook to feel the sense of togetherness.

Distribution of food and other essential goods to the needy in the community, which is an important custom of Eid al-Fitr, was also affected.

Zakat al-Fitr is an Islamic finance term referring to the obligation that an individual has to donate to those in need before Eid prayers.

Zakat is based on the value of all of one’s possessions. It is customarily 2.5% of a Muslim’s total savings and wealth above a minimum amount known as nisab.

Nisab is the minimum amount that a Muslim must have before being obliged to Zakat, and those who spoke to Nairobi News said they were unable to give Zakat due to the challenging economic times due to the coronavirus pandemic.