By Aasma Day
We’re here to guide you through the coronavirus lockdown.
Ramadan During Lockdown: ‘We Might Not Be In The Same House But We Can Still Eat Together’
With lockdown restrictions now varying between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, specific guidance for each nation has been developed between the Muslim Council of Britain and its affiliates the Muslim Council of Scotland, the Muslim Council of Wales and Belfast Islamic Centre.
The variations in public health advice have been addressed: Muslims in England who are not self isolating are encouraged to go outdoors with other members of their household in accordance with the updated lockdown restrictions, while the main message in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is to stay at home.
The guidance includes dos and don’ts such as encouraging people to wear their best clothes and perfume and enjoy a home cooked meal or takeaway at home, but not to visit family and friends in their homes, go to the mosque or gather in groups of two or more with people who are not from your household.
“As ever, everyone’s number one priority must be to help save lives and celebrating Eid at home is the best way to do this,” says Khan.
“We use this holy day to pray for the safety of our communities and our key workers and a swift end to this pandemic.”
In some places, such as in Preston, Lancashire, mosques will broadcast the symbolic Eid call to prayer by loudspeaker so people can hear it from their homes even though mosques will remain closed.
Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council says: “We are keenly aware of how difficult it has been for our Muslim communities who have not been able to come together, pray and break their fast, as is their tradition during Ramadan.
“While this is not a real replacement for time spent celebrating with family and friends, I am proud we are able to support the community and offer a small way to mark the occasion.
“We believe this unique event will be of interest to the whole community and illustrates the benefit of genuine dialogue with faith leaders through the pandemic.”
The NHS has also reinforced the safety advice with hospital trusts around the country sharing the message for Muslims to celebrate Eid at home.
Although Eid will be a different experience this year, households can still enjoy celebrations safely at home. We hope everybody gets the chance to connect virtually with extended family and friends. #StayAlertpic.twitter.com/AHwIUHP57H
— East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (@ELHT_NHS) May 21, 2020
Ali Amla says that with growing evidence that people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds are more adversely affected by coronavirus, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are abiding by the lockdown rules.
“The reality is, there will always be those that listen and those that don’t. But I am seeing and hearing that more people are sticking to the lockdown than not,” he tells HuffPost UK.
Amla says there has been an anti-negative rhetoric from the far-right and feels there is a disparity between how Eid is being spun in a negative light compared to the VE Day celebrations when many neighbours held street parties.
“It is important that everyone – including Muslim communities – stick to the lockdown restrictions as even though there has been a decline in deaths, coronavirus is still a very serious issue,” he says.
“There is already a far-right narrative out there blaming Muslims for the spread of coronavirus and there have been fictitious stories about Muslims going to mosques to pray which have been debunked.
“Let’s not give the far-right any ammunition and make sure we all stick to the lockdown restrictions on Eid as we have a duty to be safe.”
While Raisah Ahmed says she understands that messages need to be communicated to everyone, she finds some of the terminology and advice insulting – as if there is an assumption that Muslims will break lockdown.
“There are always going to be people who break the rules but that applies to every community, not just the Muslim community,” she says. “We are not going to sit outside on Eid having street parties. If this was happening at Christmas, would they put out the same messages they are putting out to Muslims?
“I feel people are abiding by the rules as they know how important and serious this is and they have elderly people in their communities who they desperately want to protect.
“I would encourage people to have a bit of compassion. This is probably our biggest festival of the year and not being able to see your family and friends and do the things you traditionally do is a big thing and will be traumatic for some people.
“We are all doing the best we can and are determined to have a happy Eid while sticking to the lockdown measures and keeping everyone safe.”