Cases of COVID have been on the rise for the past several weeks in Michigan, prompting Governor Gretchen Whitmer to put back in place restrictions which had previously been lifted, including one limiting indoor gatherings to no more than ten people and outdoor gatherings to no more than fifty.
Even before these restrictions were announced, many Michigan Muslim families were planning on altered `Eid plans.
“I … have a four-month-old so I will be taking precautions,” Nadia Hassan of Ann Arbor, Michigan told AboutIslam when asked if she planned on attending any in-person services for the holiday.
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Although the new restrictions were not announced until a few days before `Eid, mosques were already planning different `Eid celebrations. The largest mosque in the US, the Islamic Center of America, hosted a drive-thru `Eid celebration.
Only worshippers at no high risk attended`Eid prayers while wearing face masks.
In spite of a robust Muslim community in Michigan with many options available for `Eid prayers and festivities, many families felt it is too risky still.
Describing her family’s usual traditions to AboutIslam, Sarah Mushtaq Ali of the Metro Detroit area, spoke of getting together for a potluck with family in the afternoon of `Eid, after having enjoyed `Eid prayers and breakfast earlier in the day.
This year was much different. “I’ve been working from home these days, so was busy until evening with work,” Sarah said. “Lots of things are different this year. We couldn’t celebrate at someone’s house. Couldn’t go out for dinner.”
“My feelings are not the same as they used to be around `Eid. Feels like we are missing out…” she concluded.
Keeping `Eid Traditions
Safina Mahmood, who is from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, has also changed her `Eid plans. She, too, spoke of usually going to the mosque for prayers, which she and her family would not be doing this year. However, many of her other `Eid traditions remained.
“I will decorate the house the same and set up gifts by the fireplace and will have the kids open them up … We will still do the `Eid Egg hunt, and some other games to keep the kids busy,” Safina told About Islam.
It is inevitable that without being able to attend the prayers at the masjid, things will be different, Safina agreed. But she had an optimistic outlook in terms of the holiday.
“We are lucky that we have so much technology with video calls to our family and friends … I know that I will do my best to celebrate `Eid with the most excitement and with religious aspects for my children even though we have this pandemic.”
Several months ago, when many mosques around the world closed for prayers completely, many people recalled the Hadith which encouraged people not to go to the mosque and to pray at home due to rain.
Families like Sarah’s and Safina’s have traditions that are important to them, as praying in the mosque is an important ritual. But in times where participating in tradition can be dangerous, the obligation to protect oneself and one’s community must override tradition.
With families like Sarah’s and Safia’s doing their parts, as well as local mosques doing their best to protect the community, perhaps next year Muslims in Michigan will be able to enjoy `Eid as we have in the past.