The Hendricks family in Sheraton Park, Steenberg. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
The Hendricks family in Sheraton Park, Steenberg. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Muslims across South Africa prepare for unusual, emotional Eid

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published May 22, 2020

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Cape Town - Muslims across South Africa and the globe will have to envision and prepare for a very different and somewhat sombre Eid this year.

Eid-ul-Fitr, or Eid as it is commonly known, is a day of celebration, marking the end of the Holy month of Ramadaan, where Muslims have fasted from before daybreak to dusk.

With the countrywide lockdown in place, a day that is traditionally spent outside one’s home will be a new adjustment for many.

Imam at the Yusufiyah Mosque, Shaykh Ebrahiem Moos, said the day of Eid usually began with congregational prayers at a mosque or an open air venue.

“After prayers, worshippers would then disperse to various family members, neighbours and loved ones, wishing them an ‘Eid Mubarak’. The lockdown is obviously going to have a huge impact on the Muslim community as they will not be able to fulfil their religious duties in an optimal way, as well as their social interactions with their family members and friends. I am certain that it is going to be an emotional experience for everyone to celebrate Eid in this unusual fashion,” Moos said.

“It is very important that we still consider the day as being holy for Muslims and do our best in making an auspicious occasion out of it, in whatever way possible, while at the same time complying with the regulations set out by the government.

“Every household should thus try to uphold the Eid in their homes, rendering the Takbir (glorifying Allah) together, praying together, and also enjoying meals together,” Moos said.

Imam of the Jumua Mosque of Cape Town, Shaykh Riyaal Rinquest, said: “After leaving the mosques, there’s a visiting pecking order that most Capetonians follow which is to join their parents for breakfast, then aunts and uncles for lunch, then extended family and friends for tea and dessert.

“Visiting one another is the main activity of the day, as well as to feed and help people in need, and inviting them to lunch, and so on.”

Rinquest said social media platforms would be used to create a sense of togetherness and allow for participation. 

“We encourage our community to use technology and social media to stay connected with their loved ones. Eid is a day of generosity, and cheerfulness is generosity of spirit.”

Head of CTIEC Cape Town Ulama Board, Mufti Sayed Haroon Al Azhari said: “We should still do all the traditions and spiritual deeds of ‘Eid at home like performing the Eid Salaah at home with our family and one does not have to do a Khutbah. We can recite the Takbirs and Ashraqal. To keep the spirit of learning, many scholars have exerted themselves in creating ‘Eid content online and one may even read the Qur’aan.”

Two mosques in Salt River, currently emptied of worshippers will use its loudspeakers to broadcast the chanting of the Takbir, and families are invited to stand on their front porch and join as well as wave and wish their neighbours. Other communities have also expressed their support and will follow suit. 

Salt River Heritage Society Chairperson Dr Yusuf Lalkhen said historically the day of Eid was a communal event in which every resident would participate. 

“With the lockdown restrictions on gatherings this seemed almost an impossible task. It soon became apparent that the communal chanting of the Takbir could become the most appropriate opportunity for all residents to either witness or participate in simultaneously.”

Lalkhen explained: “In 1654, the Dutch brought the first group of slaves and political prisoners to the Cape from all over Africa and Asia. These slaves and political prisoners were forced to leave their homeland and families behind, and brought with them only their memories, their traditions and their rituals. Some of these practices, like the chanting of the Takbir during Eid celebrations, were not only an expression of devotion, but simultaneously acts of resistance. The Takbir had continued uninterrupted at the Cape, from Dutch slavery through to British colonialism. To this very day.”

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