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1.9 Billion Muslims Worldwide Celebrate A Pandemic Eid al-Adha

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Muslims around the globe are celebrating Eid al-Adha today, which marks the completion of the Hajj pilgrimage

By Maryam Razzaq

In Arabic, Eid al-Adha means the “festival of sacrifice” and it is a day of celebration to mark the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage that Muslims engage in for the purpose of cleansing their soul and to create a sense of unity and equality in their community.

The celebration comes from the story of Prophet Ibrahim being commanded by God to sacrifice his son, Ismail as a test of faith. The belief is that God placed a ram in place of Ismail. As such, Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha by sacrificing an animal (usually a sheep, cow or goat) and distribute the meat evenly among family, neighbours and the poor. 

Palestinians celebrate after Eid prayers outside Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters

Traditionally on this day, Muslims attend peaceful prayers, exchange gifts and greeting, provide money to the poor, and share special meals with their loved ones, but the pandemic has halted the routine celebrations.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage which was attended by 2.5 million Muslims from around the globe in Mecca, Saudi Arabic has been limited to 60,000 vaccinated pilgrims. Pilgrims must wear a mask and maintain social distancing during prayers.

Celebrations of Eid al-Adha look drastically different for the 1.9 billion Muslims around the globe for a second year in a row. Leaders around the world have encouraged for safe celebrations to protect communities from the spread of COVID-19.

Children play with balloons after Eid prayers at al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Egypt
Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

The current Manitoba COVID-19 guidelines states that regular religious services may be held inside places of worship as long as the persons attending the service does not exceed 25% or 25 persons. The Manitoba Islamic Association released an Eid al-Adha prayer guideline which included the following information: bringing your own prayer mat, wear a mask, practise physical distancing, no kids under 12, seniors strongly encouraged to stay home, no hugs or handshakes and to depart promptly after the prayer service. The Manitoba Islamic Association held two prayer services, each limited to 25 attendees to commemorate Eid al-Adha. Others in the community held the prayers on the outdoor portions of their private residences with no more than 10 people. 

Muslims pray at Croke Park on Eid al-Adha in Dublin, Ireland
Photograph: László Gecző/INPHO/Rex/Shutterstock

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau issued a statement on Eid al-Adha.

“Today, Muslims in Canada and around the world will celebrate Eid al-Adha as they mark the end of the Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.

“On this day, Muslims traditionally attend prayers, exchange gifts and greetings, provide aid to the poor, perform a sacrifice, and share a special meal with family and friends. This important day still offers an opportunity to reflect on lessons of sacrifice, compassion, and generosity, and to show appreciation for life’s blessings. It is also a time for all Canadians to recognize the many contributions that Muslim Canadians have made to our country for generations.

“While some people will once again be able to gather safely with family and friends to celebrate this year’s Eid, others may still be isolated and alone. And many are missing out once again on the pilgrimage to Mecca. But if we continue to follow public health guidelines and get our COVID-19 vaccines as soon as it’s our turn, we will beat this virus and we will all be able to celebrate together next year.

“Sadly, today will also be more sombre as we continue to acknowledge that Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred is real in Canada. The recent tragedy in London, Ontario, is a painful reminder that Muslims continue to face insults, threats, and violence in communities across the country. Hatred and discrimination have no place in our society. That is why the Government of Canada will host the National Summit on Islamophobia on July 22, to continue to take strong action against this hate and discrimination. Together, we must choose inclusion over intolerance, and reaffirm our commitment to a diverse Canada, where everyone – no matter their faith, ethnicity, culture, or gender – can feel welcome, safe, and respected.

“On behalf of our family, Sophie and I wish all those observing Eid al-Adha a wonderful celebration.

“Eid Mubarak!”

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