Millions of Muslims across Africa began celebrating the Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, on Tuesday under strict coronavirus restrictions including bans on congregational prayers at mosques and dawn-to-dusk curfews in some countries.
“We prayed at home and are enjoying our Eid in the house,” Shukuru Ruyondo, a Muslim professional living in the Rwandan capital Kigali, told Anadolu Agency in a virtual interview.
Ruyondo said he missed the Muslim tradition of visiting relatives during the holiday.
“Staying indoors is part of the sacrifice we’re making so that we can meet again in the future as families without losing any lives to COVID-19,” Ruyondo said after leading his small family in prayers at home.
Last week, Rwandan authorities imposed a strict lockdown in Kigali and eight other districts for 10 days beginning on July 17 to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, is usually celebrated by daytime feasts and gatherings.
Under normal circumstances, Muslims often invite each other to feast and celebrate at their homes after early-morning congregational prayers.
“I prayed at home and later connected with my family who live in both Johannesburg and the Netherlands,” Abdullahi Ali Hassan, a doctoral student at the University of Cape Town and a local community leader, told Anadolu Agency.
He said that although he yearned for the congregational prayers and meeting with friends, he is happy that technology has enabled him to connect with those out of reach.
Some Muslims in South Africa under strict lockdown celebrated the holiday on Tuesday, while others will celebrate on Wednesday.
Muslim leaders in the country, including Imam Rashid Omar of the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town, have offered video sermons and encouraged members of the community to observe COVID-19 restrictions.
“We have to take into reality that we’re living in extraordinary times and adjust to do things according to the new reality,” said Johannesburg-based researcher Mustafa Mheta.
Mheta, who will be celebrating Eid on Wednesday, told Anadolu Agency that he is equally happy that virtual communication has been very handy in the COVID-19 era, allowing people to keep in touch despite the distance.
“I followed Eid prayers on TV live from Makkah and although our mosques are closed here in Uganda. I was able to pray along,” Musa Namugo, a trader in the capital Kampala, told Anadolu Agency via telephone.
Uganda is among the countries on the continent that has introduced strict lockdown measures banning congregational prayers, movement across the country, and a night-time curfew.