Amid the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed thousands of lives worldwide, crippled businesses, and caused massive disruption to daily living, including religious worship, with the closure of mosques and churches, Muslim faithfuls are expected to quietly offer prayers and supplications today to celebrate this year’s Eid-el-fitr. Also called the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”, Eid-el-fitr marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting in the holy month of Ramadan.
Today’s celebration would most probably be devoid of the fanfare, fellowship, and ceremonial visits usually associated with Eid-el-fitr. This is due to the social/physical distancing and other containment measures introduced by governments to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.
It was against this new normal that Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, called on Muslims across the country to see this year’s Eid event as “an occasion for sober reflection rather than celebration because of the long shadows of gloom that the coronavirus has cast on people’s lives.”
In his Eid-el-fitr message signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari admitted that the COVID-19 challenge had taken a huge toll on people’s spiritual, social and economic lives. He assured Nigerians that the current lockdown would not be longer than necessary.
Buhari told Muslims to keep their spirits up in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. He said the virus, “which caught the world off-guard, has put a damper on what would otherwise have been a time of celebration for the Muslim faithful to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting period.”
The president said, “For the first time in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the people’s spiritual, social and economic lives.” He added, “This year’s fasting period was particularly challenging for Muslims, because they had to forgo many important aspects of their daily worship, including the routine congregations for prayer and the recitation and interpretation of the Holy Qur’an as well as traveling for the lesser pilgrimage to Makkah.
“It is not easy to give up many of these important duties and activities, but it became imperative to do so in order to control or limit the spread of this deadly disease. Let me use this opportunity to commend the sacrifices of both Muslims and Christians for their cooperation in the enforcement of the social distancing guidelines.
Equally in the spirit of the season, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, urged Muslims to continue to demonstrate the virtues of peaceful coexistence imbibed during the month-long fasting preceding Eid-el-Fitri.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, Sanwo-Olu, said Eid-el-Fitri was significant as it marked the end of the month of abstinence from worldly pleasures with fasting and prayers.
The governor said, “Today, I join millions of people around the world, to wish our Muslim brothers and sisters in Lagos State and in Nigeria happy Eid-el-fitri. For Muslims, today’s celebration is very unique. It is a feast to mark the end of a month-long spiritual renewal following 30 days of fasting and other religious acts.
“Ramadan was a period that you denied yourselves the worldly pleasures, turned to your Creator for total cleansing, and upheld other religious values. Such values as the reaffirmation of your duty to serve one another, helping the poor and the vulnerable in the society, offering gratitude, showing compassion and generosity among other good deeds that guide your faith.