By Bala Ibrahim
All over the world, Muslims are celebrating the Eid with the aid of the mask. This is the first time in my life time to witness the Sallah prayers under the compelling condition of social distancing, and the mandatory measure of worshiping with the mask. The protocol is as weird as it is absurd everywhere.
For many of us, this is a novel experience of observing the festivities without the conventional merriment of fusing for feasting. Coronavirus has come to corrupt the concordant convention.
My wife said the Sallah seems boring because of the absence of the usual hustle and bustle of the town. Every family is confined to the comfort of its house. The regular visits of friends are restricted. The Emir’s cavalcade is curbed, just as the children’s hysteria for fun at the parks is put on hold, paused, or paralyzed by the fear of the pandemic. The only item around in abundance is the mask, as it becomes the aid to the Eid.
I said to madam, we should be grateful to God that we are amongst those He speared to take stock of the social stress. Some are dead. Some are deformed, while others are in the hospital, struggling for breath through the aid of an aide. Coronavirus has brought us to the era of Eid with the mask as an aid.
This year’s Eid has come at a time the coronavirus has caused deaths and devastations to thousands of people globally, including over 200 in Nigeria, one of whom was the former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari. As a result, Nigeria, like many countries around the world, was forced to impose movement restrictions, as well as prohibiting the convergence of large gatherings, with a view to arresting the spread of the virus. The situation has brought some hardships and discomfort to many.
The discomfort is not limited to the public. The president is equally affected by the restrictions. PMB had observed the Eid prayers with his family at home in the presidential villa, Abuja, contrary to the convention of travelling to his country home in Daura, where he normally meets with friends and family members. So this year’s end of the Ramadan fast is without the large congregations for prayers and the fun of friends joining forces to feast. The fear of Covid-19, has made the wearing of the mask mandatory, thereby forcing all to have an Eid with the aid of the mask.
For the indefatigable governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, it’s not just an Eid with an aid, but an Eid with additional assignment. Pursuant to his determination to frustrate the spread of the disease, the governor said he would personally patrol the Kano-Kaduna boundary on the day of the Eid, so that nobody from Kano State would sneak into Kaduna state.
“I will ensure that I personally visit and patrol the Kaduna-Kano boundary on Sallah day, and I will remain there from morning till night, to see who will dare enter Kaduna State. I will not leave there until late at night”-Governor El-Rufai.
Much as the lockdown has brought inconveniences, along with the added costume of the mask to the regular regalia in the Muslims Sallah customs, the stay at home restriction has come with some surprising benefits. People that normally go out visiting others and socializing with new friends now invest more time and energy looking after themselves and their families. The fear of contracting Covid-19 has made people more health conscious, particularly those that fall in the most vulnerable positions.
Yes, this is the first Sallah festival ever, where the mask is competing with the rosary, as the most important aid during the Eid. May Allah make the subsequent Eids come with ease. Ameen.
Mr. Ibrahim writes from Abuja.