Baton Rouge Islamic Center celebrates Eid with changes amid pandemic
Since the start of the year, COVID-19 has ravaged nations across the world, leaving death and economic hardship in its wake, but as people of faith traverse the precarious waters of the pandemic, they find various reasons to hold on to hope and to even have joy.
This is why, despite the impact of novel coronavirus, members of the Muslim community are proceeding on with the commemoration of the holiday Eid al-Adha.
Eid is a three-day celebration in Muslim-majority countries and this year it began July 30 and ends on August 3. In the United States, however, most Muslims observe only one day of Eid.
Though this year's holidays have arrived at an especially difficult time due to the COVID-19 health crisis, they're meant to be reflective and joyous occasions.
Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of the Sacrifice,” commemorates the Quranic tale of the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God.
This tale may sound familiar to those of the Christian faith, as it is similar to the account of Abraham and his son Isaac, which is recorded in the Biblical book of Genesis.
During the holiday, mosques are decorated with bright lights and other decorations and Muslims wake up early in the morning to offer prayers before sunrise. After that, extravagant meals are prepared. People of all ages wear new clothes and exchange gifts on this day and non-Muslims are often invited to the day's celebratory events.
But this year's celebrations are different due to social distancing precautions.
Gatherings will be limited and few have been able to make the hajj pilgrimage, which typically involves many Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia before the start of Eid.
The hajj pilgrimage, one of the pillars of the Muslim faith, is required once in the lifetime of each able Muslim. Many believers around the globe spend years saving money to afford the journey.
But this year the hajj is sharply curtailed due to the coronavirus, with only very limited numbers of those already residing in Saudi Arabia allowed to take part.
Still, an adjusted celebration of the holiday will take place worldwide, and in South Louisiana, The Baton Rouge Islamic Center is inviting the public to observe livestreamed prayer services associated with the event. The link for prayer services is: https://m.facebook.com/4icbr/
The Imam, Abdul Ahad, of The Baton Rouge Islamic Center explained how local Muslims who regularly attend The Center will celebrate Eid this year and what feelings these commemorations are meant to inspire.
Ahad-Imam said, "They can be at their homes and still celebrate Eid together with their family. Eid, it's called Eid because of the joy and happiness that it brings every year."
Despite changes to the way these annual events are observed, many find comfort in the traditions that link them, not only to families and friends, but to a history that includes stories of ancestors who depended on their faith to endure challenging situations.