24 May 2020

Eid al-Fitr: Muslims mark the end of Ramadan amid restrictions

From Sunday Morning, 8:10 am on 24 May 2020

First Person: Auckland University student Zainab Baba talks about how this year's Eid celebrations will be very different.

The fasting month of Ramadan ends this weekend with the appearance of the new moon.

Normally the end of Ramadan would be celebrated with communal prayer, but this year's Eid celebrations will be hampered by restrictions limiting the number of people who can attend a gathering.

Auckland University student Zainab Baba told Sunday Morning about how her family will be celebrating Eid.

Zainab Baba

Zainab Baba Photo: Supplied

"The kids are all excited, honestly I was just as excited as them, I can't lie. It's definitely a huge moment of celebration to see that moon.

"There's always that moment of suspense when we're waiting for the message from the moon sighting people, saying 'there it is'. Because sometimes you can't see it with your naked eye.

"With the lockdown, being at home all day was completely different to what it usually is. Every year you're either at work or you're at university or the kids are at school or whatever it is. So you've got something to do for the whole day, you get home and you have maybe an hour or two and then you're breaking your fast. When you're doing something all day every day, it goes a lot faster.

"At the beginning, I was expecting it to be a lot harder, because you are still doing things, but you're stuck at home - you can kind of watch the time ticking by - but it was only difficult for the first day or two and then after that it was actually not that bad at all.

"That time for self-reflection and actually getting to the meaning of the month, which sometimes can go a little bit unnoticed or we don't get that time to think about it as deeply as we did this year. Obviously we've also got a lot more time with the family and actually got to discuss these things a lot more.

"For example, a really big part of this month is generosity and gratitude for what you have and generosity and charity for people who are suffering, or who have less than you, the needy.

"So I think we had that time for reflection, but being in this pandemic, obviously we were really privileged and lucky to be in the safety of our own home, still be able to go out and get the groceries, still have access to water, all of this kind of stuff.

"You look on the news and you see countries like Bangladesh and India which have just been hit with a cyclone, they have Covid and they have a huge refugee crisis and a bunch of other crises. You're just thinking to yourself, we're so incredibly lucky and it just pushes you to want to help them, but also to appreciate all the blessings you have in your life and that was a really good reflection that we were able to think about properly this year.

"The congregational Eid prayer, which we usually have, which would be in the morning at our mosque every year, but obviously this year I don't think it's on because of the Covid and the restrictions. So we've been having daily programs online. On our mosque Facebook page, they've been going live from their own homes and doing different prayers or having the lectures and all that kind of stuff.

"You can't really do a congregational prayer online. I'm sure everyone's celebrating with their family as we are. We're having a little family barbeque in our garden today and we'll do our own prayers.

"Everyone is finding their own little ways of celebrating."