Muslim community set to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr under lockdown for a second year.
Eid ul-Fitr, one of the most significant religious occasions in Islamic tradition is right around the corner and many Parc-Extension residents are about to celebrate under lockdown for the second year in a row.
The holiday underlines the end of the holy month of Ramadan when many Muslims fast during daylight hours and devote much time to prayer.
Eid is normally celebrated with prayer at the mosque, reuniting with family and friends as well as feasts of food and charity to those in need. “You can say it’s a reward for Ramadan,” said Mohammad Razwan, an administrator at the Noor-E-Madina Masjid on Jean-Talon.
But due to the current pandemic restrictions and the threat still posed by the virus, celebrations will be different once again this year. Eid is set to occur on May 13, depending on the lunar cycle.
First in a lifetime
Sadek Chowdhury is a long-time Parc-Extension resident, an entrepreneur, a devout Muslim and a proud family man and father. Most people would know him best by his nickname, “Shibli”.
“It’s exactly like Christmas, like Christmas Eve,” said Chowdhury of Eid celebrations, adding that it would usually include a morning trip to the mosque to pray and a feast with friends and family after.
“Usually we go, women, men, all the kids all in different dress,” said Chowdhury of their usual celebrations at the mosque. But that will not be possible this year he said underlining that this was the first time in his life “that we are missing all these friends and family.”
Neck to neck
With a 25 person limit in places of worship and a prohibition on any type of gathering, Chowdhury will be celebrating Eid from home with his wife and three daughters. “We cannot pray like usual, because usually, we are neck to neck,” he said.
Instead of going to the mosque, Chowdhury will be leading prayer for his family at home.
“After that, my wife will arrange our full breakfast,” said Chowdhury, adding that they would then speak to friends and family all over the world by phone and via Zoom calls.
This will then be followed by more prayer, food and virtual visits with loved ones.
Mosques at restricted capacity
It’s not only families who have had to adapt. Many local mosques in Parc-Extension have had to think outside the box to change their practices for this year’s Eid ul-Fitr celebrations.
“Normally, we have more than 1000 people, which is split into two prayers,” said Mohammad Razwan of the Noor-E-Madina Masjid on the sunrise customs.
To accommodate smaller groups, the mosque will be extending the number of morning prayers from 3 to 8. “We have to make sure they are sitting properly and following the rules,” said Razwan of attendees, adding that “it takes more time and takes a bigger team to manage.”
This also means that many will not be able to attend mosque services at all, as there isn’t enough room. This is on top of the cancelling of the traditional feast served at the mosque.
“I hope by Eid if they allowed 250 it would make it a lot easier, but if it is 25 and 25, that’s going to be very hard for us,” concluded Razwan.
Our voices are not being heard
This is a sentiment that seems to be shared by many in the community. Some have felt that the Muslim community has been left out of the discussion regarding health measures.
Mohammad Ashraf is the administrative secretary at the Madina Musallah mosque on Liège street. Although he agrees with the health measures, he also feels not enough was done to understand the needs of the Muslim community during the holy month of Ramadan.
“That’s the way most of our community people are seeing it,” said Ashraf, “that our voices are not being heard.”
Desire for accommodations
He would have liked to see certain accommodations for Muslims during their holiest of months. Ashraf said the government could have offered a pass, similar to those given to late-night workers, to allow them to attend mosque services after the curfew.
“You tell them that this is the limitation, you pray you, go home,” he said.
Ashraf would have appreciated more open consultation with the community to find such compromises. “We were hoping that the government could have done better,” said Ashraf, but stressed that he still appreciated their handling of the crisis.
Hopefully the last
All agree that they hope this is the last celebration of Eid under COVID-19 restrictions for the health and happiness of all people. “We are missing our bond,” said Chowdhury.
“We are praying for our God, for Allah, that all mankind needs to have this peace and the COVID-19 will go away,” said Chowdhury.
“They are trying to eliminate this disease if God helps because the vaccine is started already,” he said, concluding by saying he was “praying to God to make peace for everyone.”