It is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has tragically transformed the lives and lifestyles of humans across the globe. Since its rapid transmission across borders, the deadly virus has interfered with several holidays and festivals worldwide, including Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr. Its latest victim in its list of targets has been the Hajj pilgrimage.
In light of the severely contagious nature of the virus, the global surge in a number of cases, and the challenge to maintain social distancing within large gatherings, the Saudi Kingdom recently decided to restrict the Hajj pilgrimage to Muslims residing within Saudi Arabia.
If you have been eagerly looking forward to performing Hajj this year, it may have been disheartening to have had all your plans cancelled after maybe months or even years of planning. However, although you may not be able to fulfil your desire to embark on the journey of a lifetime this year, you are surely able to reap the rewards of Hajj during this pandemic right from your home through a number of different ways.
- Intention to perform the Hajj
Niyyah, or intention, to perform Hajj is the first factor that guarantees the reward of Hajj pilgrimage similar to that of one who has physically undertaken the journey. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said:
“I will narrate a saying to you, so preserve it. Verily, the world is only for four kinds of people. There is one whom Allah has granted wealth and knowledge, so he fears his Lord regarding them, upholds family ties, and acknowledges the rights of Allah over him. He will be in the best position. There is one whom Allah has granted knowledge without wealth and he has a sincere intention and he says: ‘If I had wealth, I would have acted like this person. If that is his intention, then he will have the same reward as the other.’” [At-Tirmidhi]
2. Increase in Dhikr
Spend your free time in the remembrance of Allah. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) has offered us three dhikr to perform following Salah assuring us of rewards greater than that received during Hajj pilgrimage.
Abu Hurayrah reported that the poor approached the Prophet (PBUH) and said:
“Oh, Messenger of Allah, the wealthy have gone with the highest ranks and lasting bliss. They offer prayers as we offer it; they observe fast as we do; and as they are wealthy, they perform Hajj and ‘Umrah, and go for Jihad, and they spend in charity.” The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) replied: “Shall I not teach you something with which you may overtake those who surpassed you and with which you will surpass those who will come after you? None will excel you unless he who does which you do. You should recite: Tasbeeh (Glory be to Allah – Subhan Allah), Takbeer (Allah is Greatest – Allahu Akbar), Tahmeed (Praise be to Allah – Alhamdulillah) thirty-three times after each Salah.” [Al-Bukhari]
3. Give charity
The lockdowns have impacted the livelihood of many Muslims and non-Muslims alike, through lay-offs or losses in businesses. Hence, during this blessed month, make it a priority to give as much Sadaqah (charity) as you are able to through any means possible. Allah (SWT) has said in the Holy Quran:
“Those who spend (in charity) of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.” [Quran, 2:274]
4. Fast on the first ten Days of Dhul Hijjah
The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are considered the best ten days of the year surpassing Ramadan in its blessings. It is Sunnah to fast on these ten days especially on the day of Arafah. The Prophet (PBUH) has said:
“One fast during these days is equal to the fasting of one complete year, and the worship of one night during this period is equal to the worship in the Lailatul-Qadr” [At-Tirmidhi]. He also said: “Fasting on the day of Arafah expiates the sins of two years: the past one and the coming one.” [Muslim]
Eid-Ul-Adha festivities this year will also sadly be upended due to lockdowns and restrictions curtailing many age-old family traditions and rituals. Although this year’s Eid will be unlike any celebrated before, there are a number of ways you can make the most of this festival. Here are few tips to make 2020’s Eid-ul-Adha a memorable one.
- Perform the Eid-ul-Adha Prayer with your family
Performing the Eid prayer in congregation is without a doubt highly rewarding. Although you may be unable to attend Eid prayers this year due to the closure of mosques, you may gather your family together and perform the Eid prayer at home. This will not only please Allah and earn his blessings, but also instil a renewed sense of togetherness among family members.
Sacrificing an animal in the name of Allah has been an ancient tradition upheld by all Muslims to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail for Allah. Provided lockdowns and restrictions have been eased in your country/ region, make sure that you undertake this holy obligation, as the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) has said:
“For every hair of the Qurban, you receive a reward from Allah.” [At-Tirmidhi] However, sharing of food in the midst of a pandemic is greatly discouraged; therefore, ensure that you exercise all safety protocol if you intend to distribute the meat among those in need.
Remember when doing Qurbani rules need to be followed. Animals should be treated fairly and kept in Humane conditions. Read more about how Islam promotes the well being on animals here.
- Eid Meals
It may be customary for you to host a meal or barbecue for family, friends and neighbours to celebrate the joyous day of Eid together. However, this year, owing to the uncertainty of the virus and rapid transmission rate, it is most prudent to avoid hosting or sharing food with others. Instead, involve your family and prepare some family favourites this Eid to enjoy together with them.
- Virtual family gatherings
Meeting aunties, uncles, cousins and extended family over dinner is an Eid tradition that most or all Muslim families practice without fail. Meeting up this Eid may be off the table; nevertheless, you can always host a virtual family gathering via Zoom to continue the tradition unhindered.
5. Giving Gifts
Eid is the perfect time to give gifts. Giving gifts often increases love between people. There are several stories of the prophet Muhammad giving and receiving gifts of perfume, clothing, livestock, with the most common being food.
Ibn Taymiyah (RA) stated a gift is given with the intention of honouring a specific person, either because the recipient is your friend whom you love, or because you want something in return. The gift need not be expensive, you can check out gifts that are under £15.
It is certainly hard to predict a definite time that the pandemic will end. Since the virus is still at large and some countries are now experiencing the second wave, we have to make it our duty and responsibility to ensure that we take all necessary health precautions to curb the transmission of the coronavirus. Hence, this Dhul Hijjah, make sure that you adhere to all safety measures while reaping maximum rewards and blessings from Allah (SWT).
Let us know below how you celebrated Eid-Ul-Adha this year and what memories you have made for the future. Remember this is an important time in History, tomorrow our great-grandchildren will read about this pandemic as a major historical event.