While the COVID-19 pandemic halted the usual festivities of Eid al-Adha, Wayne State students found new ways to commemorate the Muslim holiday.
Celebrated this year on July 31, Eid al-Adha marks the ending of Hajj —a pilgrimage to Mecca. Hajj was affected this year by safety regulations put in place due to COVID-19, resulting in a significantly reduced number of pilgrims allowed to participate, according to the New York Times.
Celebration usually takes place inside mosques, halls and homes. Large groups gather for prayer, followed by family gatherings, trays of food and gifts for kids.
With Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s new executive order, indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed.
Public health major Ishraaq Atkins said she sympathized with Whitmer’s decision to limit gatherings.
“I’m not too angry. This is a tough time and she’s making tough decisions,” she said. “I’m just doing what I can to keep myself and other people safe. This is literally a life or death situation, especially with asymptomatic patients.”
Noor Alshara, a psychology major at WSU said, “I wanted to make sure the value of Eid wasn’t lost.”
At Islamic Community of As Salaam —a mosque in Detroit— prayer took place outside, Atkins said. Families stayed six feet apart and brought their own prayer rugs and face masks.
“We had to sit according to family members and tarps were put up to block the sun,” Atkins said. “The Imam told everyone to leave right after the service to avoid crowding.”
Eid prayer was held outside for many communities.
Alshara said she tried to keep the spirit of Eid alive for her siblings by dressing up and going to the park.
“I don’t want them to look back at this Eid and just remember the pandemic,” she said.
Atkins also celebrated in the park with a family barbeque, she said.
Her family still dressed up and took pictures to commemorate the “special but weird occasion,” Atkins said.
WSU’s Muslim Student Association partnered with The Toybox MI to gift toys to struggling Muslim families.
The Tox Box MI’s mission is to “provide underprivileged Muslim youth in the metro Detroit area with the opportunity to enjoy and cherish their Islamic holiday season by supplying toys and educational resources to nourish both their fun and free time,” according to the organization.
Harras Khan, a first-year medical school student at WSU and MSA member, said Muslim Family Services provided contacts for families in need, including age and gender of the children so the gifts were specific to the kids.
MSA and The Toybox MI set up a LaunchGood campaign to fund the toy drive, Khan said.
Donation boxes were also set up at main mosques in the metro Detroit area, including Rochester Hills, Canton, Hamtramck and Ann Arbor.
Khan said MSA and The Toybox MI chose to get bigger gifts with a budget of $50 per kid, instead of getting small gifts for more children — funds covered about 80 kids.
Gifts included Razor scooters, indoor basketball hoops, bikes, stuffed animals, LED lights, Bath and Body Works products, board games, school supplies and books, he said.
“It started off with a vision of refugee Muslims and grew to all Muslims in need,” said Mohammad Ahmed, a WSU public health student.
MSA and The Toybox MI are distributing the toys to families on Monday, Khan said.
Ahmed also said they saw Eid as a chance to connect with non-Muslims.
“I work with a lot of non-Muslims and go to school with a lot of non-Muslims. Eid is a chance to explain how your life looks different,” Ahmed said.
He said it was special to get Eid greetings from all his friends, whatever religion they followed.
Minnah Arshad is a contributing writer for The South End. She can be reached at [email protected]
Cover photo courtesy of Ishraaq Atkins.