by aisha elbgal
Eid-al-Fitr is an exciting holiday for many practicing Muslims, commemorating the end of fasting for the month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast for 30 days because it is believed in Islam that this was when God, or in Arabic Allah, gave our final Prophet, Muhammad, the first chapters of our holy book, the Qur’an.
Every year before COVID – 19, the weeks leading up to Eid would be filled with anticipation. In preparation for Eid, we all went out shopping for Eid outfits, treats to pass out to the kids in the family, and a beloved Eid staple; a dark red-colored drink called Vimto. On the day of Eid, Muslim families from all over Oakland and neighboring cities would gather at a park early in the morning to perform the mandatory Eid prayer. We would be separated into two sections; one for the men and the other for the women.
The prayer would last between 5 and 7 minutes, with everyone standing beside each other, shoulder to shoulder and following the instructions of the Imam, or the leader of the prayer, who would then give a 20 minute lecture, or Khutbah.
After we were done, everyone greeted each other as the kids ran around bragging about how much money and candy they got. Our entire family would then meet at a relative’s house to indulge in a traditional Yemeni breakfast, and then we spent the rest of the day doing fun activities around the city.
This year, however, was different.
The morning of Eid felt like any other day we’ve spent in quarantine, the only difference being we were all dressed up and camera-ready. Our local mosque canceled the Eid prayer, so my family decided to have a socially-distant prayer and breakfast at Lake Temescal. We then met at my grandparents’ house for a barbecue, where we spent the rest of that night in the backyard by the fire, reminiscing on all the Eid holidays we took for granted the previous years.
Looking back, I never expected such a drastic and sudden change to happen to our normal daily lives. Although Covid-19 forced us to change our usual plans for Eid, it taught us the true meaning of this holiday: to just be grateful for the small things in your life. With all that’s been happening this past year, it was hard not to feel stressed and hopeless, but being able to see my family and celebrate Eid, regardless of how different it felt, brought a sense of joy and comfort that was well-needed.