For much of this year’s Ramadan, social distancing measures have meant a change in faith observance, and Eid will be no different.
Muslims would normally gather by the thousands at the crack of dawn to perform the obligatory Eid prayers at Sydney’s Lakemba and Gallipoli mosques, but this year it will not be possible due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
The Australian National Imams Council has instead issued an edict informing Muslims that it would instead be permissible to pray from home in groups of at least three people to make the Eid prayer valid.
“The Eid prayer is a ritual on this blessed day, and we emphasise its importance to be performed by all Muslims and in congregation,” the edict stated. “Given the current circumstance, it can be held at home with a minimum number of three people.”
It has been a testing time for Muslims in Australia with a ban on the usual Ramadan family gatherings to break their fast together, forcing many to connect via social media instead.
And much like the quiet mosques around the country, businesses catering to the Muslim community have been without the rush of customers they would normally see.
At the Abd Alrahman Butchery and Grocery in Auburn, western Sydney, butcher Abo Halima would normally be flat out with orders for special cuts of lamb and goat. But instead of doubling his meat orders from his halal supplier, this year he decided to wait and see.
“Usually from the Eid coming, before three or four days, it’s busy, but coronavirus makes everything in the market very quiet,” he told SBS News.
Next door at Gaziantep Sweets and Pastry, owner Zeki Atilgan’s business has fallen by 75 per cent during Ramadan. But there has been a slight increase in orders this last week.
“Eid this year will be very different and difficult for some people,” he said. “It does fall towards Sunday so it would be easier for some people. Obviously we can’t do too much gathering but it is a very busy period for Muslims. Even if people don’t eat sweets, they’ll be eating it during Eid. It’s like a tradition and everyone likes to eat it.”
But for some, there hasn’t been anything sweet about this year’s Ramadan.
“We usually prepare making sweets inside the house, lolly bags, present for children, but honestly we didn’t do that at all this Eid,” said Parastoo Bahiami from Afghanistan who arrived in Australia seven years ago.
“I don’t know, it feels so different this year and that did not encourage me to do more for the Eid this year. This year everything is bland and boring.”
At Kekilli Jewellers in Auburn, business has been slow but people have been buying gold as an investment.
Owner Asiye Kekilli said: “Our previous years have been very busy [but] we have mothers and dads buying for their children.”
Some affected by the impacts of COVID-19 though have been forced to cancel their lay-by purchases and Kekilli is allowing refunds in order to help the community.
“People are desperate for money. They are out of jobs. I have had a lot of requests to cancel lay-by items. I just can’t say no to them because I feel bad as I have a family as well,” Ms Kekilli said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison thanked Australia’s Muslim community this week for their efforts in observing the country’s COVID-19 regulations.
“I want to thank you for the great example that you’ve set and the leadership of your community, you have helped, you are helping and I know you will continue to, you are making a difference,” he said.
“As you begin this holy time, I hope the festival of Eid, with the virtue of fellowship, family, community and generosity at its core, will sustain you.”
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.
Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
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