Muslims around the world celebrate another important Islamic holiday in the shadow of the pandemic, and there is growing concern about the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.
Eid al-Adha or “sacrificial feast” is usually marked by group prayers, large social gatherings, and for many people the slaughter of livestock and the provision of meat to those in need.
This year, when the holiday starts on Tuesday, many countries are fighting the delta variant first discovered in India, prompting some countries to impose new restrictions or call on people to avoid gatherings and follow safety regulations.
The pandemic has caused damage to the sacred pillar of Islam, the pilgrimage, for the second year in a row. Its final days coincide with Eid al-Fitr. It once attracted about 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, but due to the virus, Islamic pilgrimage activities have been greatly reduced.
This year, 60,000 Saudi citizens or residents of Saudi Arabia who have been vaccinated have been granted the Hajj, preventing Muslims from other countries from fulfilling their Islamic obligations.
‘Don’t be a crowd’
When a new wave of coronavirus cases broke out in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, Indonesia marked a severe Eid al-Fitr. Ban large gatherings and implement stricter travel restrictions. Vice President Malouf Amin is also an influential Islamic scholar, who called on people and their families to pray for festivals at home.
“Don’t be crowded,” Amin said in a televised speech before the holiday. “It is necessary to protect yourself from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It is believed that this surge was driven by travel during another holiday (Eid al-Fitr in May) and the rapid spread of the Delta variant.
In Malaysia, despite the nationwide lockdown since June 1, measures have been tightened after the infection rate has risen sharply-people are forbidden to return to their hometowns or travel across regions to celebrate. Home visits and traditional cemetery trips are also prohibited.
Healthy worshipers are allowed to gather in the mosque to pray, strictly maintain social distancing, and prohibit physical contact. Animal sacrifices are limited to mosques and other approved areas.
Health Director-General Nur Hisham Abdullah urged Malaysians not to “repeated irresponsible behavior”, adding that travel and celebrations during Eid al-Fitr and another holiday on the island of Borneo led to new Case cluster.
He said in a statement: “Let us not cause all of us to perish due to COVID-19 in the excitement of celebrating the feast of sacrifice.”
Blockade of Australia and Iran
The World Health Organization reports that the death toll from COVID-19 has risen after a period of decline. This reversal is attributed to low vaccination rates, loose mask regulations and other preventive measures, as well as Delta variants.
The blockade will severely reduce the Eid al Adha celebrations in Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne.
Sydney resident and New South Wales government politician Jihad Dib (Jihad Dib) said that Muslims in the city are very sad, but understand why they are restricted to their homes and not allowed to enter.
“This will be the first Eid Mubarak in my life without hugging and kissing my parents,” Dib told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Melbourne Muslims are facing Eid al-Adha, which is blocked for the second time in years. The sudden announcement of the Melbourne blockade last week will also cause a huge financial blow to retailers who stock up on food before what they consider to be the usual Eid celebrations.
According to official media reports, Iran imposed a week-long blockade on the capital Tehran and surrounding areas on Monday as the country is struggling to cope with another surge in the coronavirus pandemic. The blockade began on Tuesday.
Not everyone is imposing new restrictions. In Bangladesh, the authorities allowed the country’s strict lockdown during the holidays to be suspended for eight days, which health experts say could be dangerous.
In occupied East Jerusalem, the Islamic religious organization estimates that 100,000 believers pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque to commemorate the first day of the festival.
In Egypt, Essam Shaban went to his southern hometown of Sohag to celebrate the Eid al-Adha with his family. He said before the start of the holiday that he planned to pray at a mosque there on Tuesday while taking precautions such as bringing his own prayer blanket and wearing a mask.
“We hope this Eid al-Fitr can be spent peacefully without any infections,” he told the Associated Press. “We must follow the instructions.”
Shaban has been looking forward to buying a buffalo with his brothers for slaughter, giving some meat to the poor from house to house, and enjoying a traditional festive meal with his extended family later in the day.
“Usually it is noisy with laughter and quarrels with children,” he said. “it’s great.”
But the others will have no relatives.
In India, Eid al-Adha starts on Wednesday, and Tahir Qureshi always prays with his father, and then visits family and friends. His father died in June after contracting the virus during the pandemic that swept the country, and the thought of having to spend his vacation without him is heartbreaking.
“It would be difficult without him,” he said.
Muslim scholars in India have been urging people to exercise restraint and abide by health regulations. Some states restrict large gatherings and require people to spend the holidays at home.
At the same time, the economic impact of the pandemic has thrown millions of Indians into financial trouble, many of whom say they cannot afford livestock.
In the controversial Muslim-majority Indian-controlled Kashmir region, businessman Ghulam Hassan Wani is one of those cuts.
“I sacrificed three or four sheep before, but we can hardly afford one this year,” Varney said.