RIYADH: Eidul Fitr would begin on Sunday in Saudi Arabia, authorities in the kingdom announced on Friday.
“Saturday will be the last day of the sacred holy month of Ramazan and Eidul Fitr will take place on Sunday,” the royal court and the supreme court said, quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency.
Religious authorities in occupied Jerusalem, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Qatar and Lebanon also said that Eid would begin on Sunday.
The Eid holiday is normally celebrated by families gathering together. But most Muslim-majority countries around the world have called on their citizens to limit their movement and face-to-face contact during this year’s celebrations, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Saudi Arabia has put in place a full curfew for the holiday period, after easing some of its restrictive measures during Ramazan.
Officials of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said that mosques would remain closed for prayers on Eidul Fitr. They called on the people to adhere to safety guidelines to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
Saudi Islamic Affairs Minister Abdullatif al-Sheikh gave instructions not to have Eid prayers in mosques, Saudi state TV quoted him as saying.
“Muslims will hold the Eid prayer at home because of the pandemic,” the Saudi Press Agency cited Sheikh Abdul Bari al-Thubaiti, the imam of the holy Prophet’s Mosque in Madina, as saying in the Friday sermon.
During Ramazan, prayers without worshippers were held by the imams in the two holy mosques of Makkah and Madina.
In the UAE, the Dubai government’s media office said on Twitter that mosques would remain closed and listed a series of Eid customs that should not be observed, including family visits and giving gifts or money to children.
Meanwhile, Muslims worldwide will celebrate one of their biggest holidays under the long shadow of the coronavirus, with millions confined to their homes and others gripped by economic concerns during what is usually a festive time of shopping and celebration.
Some countries, including Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, will impose round-the-clock curfews for the duration of the holiday. Even in countries that have largely reopened, the holiday won’t be the same.
Most restrictions have been lifted in occupied Jerusalem, but the Al Aqsa mosque compound will remain closed until after the holiday.
Shopkeepers in the Old City, which has been emptied of tourists and pilgrims since March, are reeling from the effects of six weeks of lockdown. The Jafar family’s famous sweets shop in the Old City is normally a hive of activity, but these days its seating area is empty and dark as only takeout is allowed.
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2020