Africa: Millions of African Muslims Mark Eid Holiday Amid Uncertain Times

Johannesburg — Eid al-Fitr is a special time of year for the nearly half of Africa’s population who are adherents of Islam. But this year’s celebration is different amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic and the devastation it has caused across the continent.

Last year’s festival was overshadowed by lockdowns and pandemic restrictions worldwide. Some of the same restrictions are in place this year, said Sheikh Mohammed Isaak, an imam at Nairobi’s prominent Jamia Mosque, but they have adapted.

“This is a great challenge,” he told VOA. “But despite that, we thank Allah that this year we are able to pray together the last 10 days of Ramadan and also today, Eid-al Fitr, we have celebrated or prayed together as a community. And this is something that we should not take for granted — we have to thank Allah, and this is much better compared to last year, and we hope that the following years will be much better than this year.”

Congregant Swaleh Mohammed agrees.

“For now it’s very difficult,” he said. “I can just say, maybe, to the world, my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters wherever they are, as we take care as we celebrate this holiday, let’s put in consideration the government regulations, the world regulations — whatever, so that we can keep safe. The only important thing is to keep safe.”

In multiethnic South Africa, Yusuf Mohamed, head of the South Africa branch of global charity Islamic Relief, said this year’s Eid will be very different compared to the harsh lockdown that dimmed last year’s celebrations.