Because of the pandemic, how we celebrate and mark even the most sacred of festivals has been far from normal on the account of social restrictions. Muslim families relied on video calls and other forms of communication to stay connected to mark Eid ul-Adha in 2020 and, while it was great that we could at least see our loved ones in some form at the height of a global pandemic, it just wasn’t the same.
Eid ul-Adha 2021, hopefully, looks set to be much different, with all social restrictions slated to be removed on Monday 19 July (at the time of writing) in England. It is on that very evening the Qurbani festival is set to begin, with Tuesday 20 July being the first day of Eid ul-Adha. This means families will be able to gather inside their homes with no need to worry about how many people are attending.
In other parts of the UK, though, some restrictions will remain in place with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all confirming they will not join England in lifting all social distancing measures. So, what does that mean for Muslim families and how Eid will be celebrated?
Even as restrictions ease, the Hajj pilgrimage will not be possible for Muslims in the UK, with Saudi Arabia already confirming that no overseas travellers will be permitted to enter the country due to the ongoing pandemic. The pilgrimage, though, will still take place and on a much grander scale than it was in 2020, with just a few hundred residents allowed and thousands of fully vaccinated local Muslims permitted to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage.
Next year it is hoped that Muslims in the UK will be able to complete this most sacred of traditions, with all those who are able to being expected to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lives. For this year, though, playing an active role in Hajj is not on the cards, sadly.
If we are in the fortunate position where social restrictions are lifted, Muslims living in England can celebrate Qurbani Eid as they would do any other year. Family gatherings are back on the table both in and outdoors, and is the exchanging of food and gifts.
It is tradition to visit friends and family over the days of Eid, but not before completing morning prayers. As we were unable to come together in 2020, there is little doubt that many will choose to make the most of Eid 2021 in the UK.
As we have already mentioned, not all parts of the UK are planning to ease social distancing measures on 19 July, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set to remain under restrictions. Even though England has set a target of lifting measures by 19 July, it has not been confirmed (at the time of writing).
If some measures do remain, they are far less restrictive than those that were in place during last year’s Eid festival. Families and friends can still meet inside and outdoors, as long as they keep to local restrictions. This will likely mean there will be the need for video calling loved ones so they are part of festivities. With many families being spread out across various parts of the UK, video calls will also come in useful for keeping relatives connected who live on opposite sides of borders.
Whether celebrating with or without restrictions, what is most important is that we remember the meaning of Eid and the giving of Qurbani. We must never forget the sacrifice that Ibrahim (AS) was willing to make for Allah (SWT).
As part of the festival of the sacrifice, it is obligatory to donate shares of Qurbani meat to those who are most in need. Traditionally, Muslims would be expected to carry out the sacrifice themselves, with three equal shares of meat going to the person making the sacrifice, to friends or family, and to the needy.
Due to domestic laws stipulating only registered slaughterhouses are permitted to slaughter animals, Muslims in the UK can fulfil their Qurbani by donating to a charity such as Muslim Aid. We urge you to make your donation as soon as possible, allowing our team of volunteers ample time to complete the sacrifice and distribute meat over the days of Eid ul-Adha.
You can donate for Qurbani through our website today.