BROOKLYN – A pandemic will not stop Muslims from celebrating Eid al-Adha tomorrow, Friday, July 31.
Eid al-Adha is also referred to as the Festival of the Sacrifice and is observed after the completion of Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam and the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
This year, because of the coronavirus, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca has brought only 1,000 people to adhere to social distancing rules, compared to the two million it usually brings. “In Mecca, a fortunate few pray for a pandemic-free world.”
The site is one to see. Each pilgrim is wearing a mask, walking along lines spread feet apart, circumambulating the Ka’bah. This year, international worshippers were not allowed to complete the annual pilgrimage. Those who were selected are foreign residents of Saudi Arabia and Saudi nationals from the ages of 20 to 50. Prior to Hajj, each pilgrim was told to quarantine and had to take several medical tests to ensure they were healthy. During Hajj, each pilgrim was to carry their own prayer mat and were given sanitized pebbles for a ritual of stoning the devil.
Back home in Brooklyn, mosques have re-opened with social distancing measures put into place and no one is allowed to enter without a mask. For some masjids, you have to register your name on a list in order to pray Jummah or the Eid prayer to avoid crowds. At the Muslim Community Center (MCC) in Sunset Park, there will be two Eid prayers to make sure it does not get crowded. A masjid that normally holds 500 people for Eid prayer, will now hold about 150.
“It is imperative for the American Muslim community to not let their guard down as COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States,” a statement by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) stated. “While this pandemic continues to disrupt our daily social and religious norms, we must continue to be vigilant to ensure the safety of our families, neighbors, and communities, regardless of gender, race, or school of thought.”
According to Mohamed Bahe, the founder of Muslims Giving Back, social distancing during prayers is enforced, masks are given, and there are sanitizing stations in all entrances. For the past week, the masjid has gone into a deep cleaning phase where everything was disinfected “to ensure the maximum amount of safety for our congregants and staff,” Bahe said.
At MCC, the first Eid salah will take place at 8 a.m. and the second at 9 a.m. There will also be free candy and gifts for children, as well as free coffee and donuts. Congregants are just asked to bring their own prayer mats.
“It feels amazing to have the community gather again and see your friends and neighbors whom you haven’t seen in months,” Bahe said. “We are grateful to at least have the ability to celebrate our holiday with our fellow community members, even if it is in low numbers.”