This year only a thousand pilgrims were allowed on this once-in-a-lifetime journey.
It is definitely a very ‘different’ Eid Al Adha this year minus the usual cheer and warmth associated with the festival of sacrifice. Watching unprecedented scenes from the holy city of Makkah, where a unique and dramatically downsized Haj is taking place, many let out little gasps, as never have we seen or even imagined such a scaled down pilgrimage.
Instead of witnessing a packed Mount Arafat and holy Kaaba, the holiest site for Muslims that usually would have over two million pilgrims praying shoulder-to shoulder, this year only a thousand pilgrims were allowed on this once-in-a-lifetime journey.
Pilgrims donned face masks and maintained a safe distance as they circumambulated the holy Kaaba in single-file and colour-coded rows that matched the colour of their umbrellas and bags provided to them by the Saudi authorities.
Covid-19 has not only disrupted lives but also reshaped our spiritual experience. As Muslims across the world grapple with the great disruption caused by the virus, the Haj sermon that echoed from Masjid-e-Nimra mosque on Mount Arafat reminded them that “the difficulties they face in this life were a test from Allah.”
Reminding people to remain steadfast and to help others in these tough times, Sheikh Abdullah bin Sulaiman, in his sermon from Masjid-e-Nimra on Thursday, narrated incidents from the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and paid rich tribute to him by elaborating how the last messenger of Islam had spent his entire life for the welfare of mankind.
Thanking the Almighty for the various blessings He had bestowed on mankind, he said that those who remained steadfast on the right path, with patience, will receive glad tidings at the end. “It is only through worship that you can ward off afflictions,” he said.
Yes, our dream Eid may not happen this year with no congregational prayers, no Eid parties or gifts exchanged but that will not in any way take away the festive cheer, happiness and fervour that is associated with the greater Eid, more popularly known as Eid Al Adha.
The UAE and its residents, who have complied with the country’s safety guidelines, have successfully managed to contain the coronavirus. They believe that the ‘celebrations must go on’ but of course well within the safety parameters. Adhering to safety measures, residents and citizens are determined to not let the pandemic dampen their Eid plans as they align with the “new normal”. While some will connect with loved ones on video calls instead of personally going to meet them, others will be glamming up and venturing out to malls, parks for picnics equipped with their masks and gloves.
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