Muslims across Southeast Asia put on face masks and were instructed to observe social distancing to guard against the coronavirus, as they gathered at local mosques Friday to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, one of two major holidays on the Islamic calendar.
In a year overshadowed by an unprecedented global pandemic, followers of Islam largely kept a safe distance while attending prayer services, as others participated in online markets to purchase cattle and other sacrificial animals. Eid-ul-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, honors Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God.
The pandemic has infected more than 17.3 million and killed more than 674,000 worldwide, according to disease experts at U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
In Thailand, people converged on the central mosque in Pattani province and other worship sites in the Muslim-dominant Deep South to pray for safety and prosperity.
Fahad Sai, who sells fried chicken in Pattani, said the pandemic had hurt his sales.
“I prayed that I will be relieved from poverty and that COVID-19 will subside. If it subsides, I can sell and make money as usual to feed my family,” he told BenarNews. “I believe Allah will bless me and fulfill my wishes.”
In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, the national ulema council and the Ministry of Religious Affairs advised those living in areas at high risk of COVID-19 transmission to pray at home, while those in safer areas could join mass prayers as long as worshipers wore masks and maintained social distance. Mosques are to limit the number of attendees to half capacity.
Local media reported that as travel restrictions have eased, many Muslims who could not visit their families in May for Eid al-Fitr were able to travel for this holiday.
In Bangladesh, where Eid-ul-Adha falls on Saturday, many Muslims have gone to online markets to purchase cattle, buffalo, goats, sheep and even camels after the government announced it would crack down on makeshift markets that sprang up in past years. A ritual around the holiday calls for meat of the sacrificed animal to distributed three ways – for yourself, for your friends and for the poor.
The number of available animals was expected to be slightly less than the 10.6 million sacrificed in 2019, according to Imran Hossain, president of the Bangladesh Dairy Farm Association.
“This year, middle-income and lower-middle-income families are not in a situation to perform the ritual, even the affluent families are struggling,” Hossain told BenarNews recently, adding, “sales are expected to be 20 percent to 25 percent less than previous years.”
Sharif Khiam in Dhaka, Mariyam Ahmad in Pattani, Thailand, Jojo Rinoza in Calasiao, Philippines, and Ronna Nirmala in Jakarta contributed to this report.