MUMBAI: Leaders of the Muslim community in the Indian city of Mumbai have urged its members to forgo Eid Al-Fitr celebrations and instead support those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Mumbai is the worst-hit part of the country, recording 20 percent of India’s nearly 120,000 infection cases and almost a quarter of its 3,600 deaths related to COVID-19.
The worst-affected parts of Mumbai are its vast slum areas, where social distancing is impossible.
As the government of Maharashtra state has introduced a stay-at-home curfew in the city of 20 million, with residents allowed outside only if vitally necessary, many have been left without work and are facing hunger.
The emergency economic situation has prompted Muslim leaders in Mumbai to urge fellow community members to avoid spending money on celebrating Eid Al-Fitr — a holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan — and help all those suffering from the lockdown.
“We want to urge Muslims to think about the poor and needy by providing rations or even giving cooked food to those struggling in their neighborhoods. Help should be rendered not only to Muslims, but to anyone who needs it,” Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi, secretary-general of the All India Ulema Council, told Arab News.
He said each year enormous sums are spent on Eid feasts in the city, where about 20 percent of residents are Muslim.
It is estimated that some 5 billion Indian rupees ($65 million) are usually spent during Eid season on gifts, new clothes and food as markets, shopping centers and food stalls teem with people.
Daryabadi discouraged the annual shopping spree “at a time when there’s a complete lockdown and even namaz (prayer) isn’t offered in mosques.”
We want to urge Muslims to think about the poor and needy by providing rations or even giving cooked food to those struggling in their neighborhoods. Help should be rendered not only to Muslims, but to anyone who needs it.
Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi, Secretary-general of All India Ulema Council
Nawab Malik, Maharashtra Cabinet minister for minority development, told Arab News: “Muslims across the country are in no mood to celebrate Eid as usual. They’ve been following all the rules of lockdown and staying home.”
He too encouraged charity, saying: “As per Islamic philosophy, the affluent are expected to give money to the poor. Charity is part of Islamic tradition.”
He added that the state government is considering financial packages and interest-free loans for those whose livelihoods and businesses have been severely affected.
Yahya Mohammed, a building contractor and father of three who lives in Mumbai, said he is not planning anything special for Eid this year.
“It will be just a good meal prepared for the family. As for charity, we’ve always been giving. It’s part of our tradition,” he told Arab News.
Sarfraz Arzu, editor in chief of the Hindustan Urdu Daily, said: “Muslims on their own have been helping the poor without being told by anyone. Considering the severity of the situation, people have realized that spending on clothes and festivities is not necessary.”
He added that he, his wife and daughter will quietly spend Eid at home, praying “that life becomes normal once again.”