Nadya Labiba from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Carina Irimia from the Catholic University of Eichstatt-Ingolstadt Germany, discovered some of the many ways Eid was being celebrated during COVID-19.

Australia’s Imams have found a way to keep the spirit of Eid alive, despite coronavirus restrictions forcing Muslim families to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan at home.

The three-day celebration Eid al-Fitr, meaning “festival of breaking the fast”, is one of the most important dates on the Islamic calendar and is traditionally spent feasting, attending mosque and connecting with the community.

This year’s celebrations have been subdued – and indoors. But in praising families for their “resilience”, the Australian National Imams Council also issued an edict declaring that only a minimum of three people praying at home was needed to keep the Eid prayer valid.

Letter from the National Imams Council

Imams letter

The letter from The Australian National Imams Council

For University of Technology Sydney student Amaani Siddeek, Eid celebrations have been a “pray-at-home” affair.

“This… is the first time I won’t be able to attend the morning Eid prayer, and so there’s a real sense of loss that we will be spending Eid essentially alone,” she said.

Though the easing of COVID-19 restrictions has enabled modified communal prayers in some countries such as Iran and Pakistan – in Australia, only 10 people are permitted to gather in a place of worship. So, many mosques offered virtual services.

Zoom meeting

A Ramadan gathering over Zoom (Photo: Supplied, Salut Muhidin)

Berlin-based religious scholar Dr Ken Chitwood, says the Muslim spirit of service and fellowship has persevered.

“Just yesterday, our neighbours brought over some sweet breads for us as part of their celebration,” he explains. “They did so by dropping the bread at our doorstep, knocking, and then stepping back before we opened the door.

“The interaction was brief and appropriately distanced, but the spirit of generosity and community that is at the heart of Eid was still felt.”

In Germany, places of worship are allowed congregations of up to 50 people, but communal prayers have been suspended in mosques until further notice.

Augsburg local Hamza Fouani, says the coronavirus has not impacted Eid celebrations with his family.

“If the family was still not allowed to meet (due to social distancing laws), it would have made a difference.”

Back in Australia, Muslims like Sarah Febrina may have replaced the usual Eid party with small family gatherings, but the tradition of cooking an Eid feast, remained.

“I still prepare the other things to make [Eid] memorable for my little daughter.” 

*Baking for Eid. (Photos: Supplied, Salut Muhidin)

For Amaani Siddeek and her family, the modified Eid routine is a necessary step to ensure public health and safety.

“We live and learn… I think for the most part we were always equipped with strategies on how to practice Islam from home, we just got used to… practicing it as a community through gatherings as well.”

— Nadya Labiba @nadrlabiba with Carina Irimia of Germany