COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Muslims are staying at home during this year’s Eid Al-Fitr as the island country enforced a nation-wide curfew on Sunday and Monday to prevent mass gatherings and the spread of the coronavirus.
All-Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) President Sheikh Rizwe Mohammed told Arab News on Sunday that the Muslim community had followed the government’s guidelines and avoided group meetings and congregational prayers.
“We are happy that the Muslims enjoyed the company of their kith and kin at home, holding prayers at their own homes,” he said. He added that although the community had been badly affected by job losses during the two-month lockdown to control the coronavirus, the focus of the nation was to stand together and stop the disease.
To express their support for the government and solidarity with law enforcers, Muslims in Colombo’s Aluthkade area decorated their police station on the eve of Eid.
Director of the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs M.B.M. Ashraff told Arab News that he had instructed imams not to hold congregational prayers. At each mosque, only the imam and muezzin were allowed to be inside to announce the call for Eid prayers through loudspeakers.
Muslims were also advised to avoid their traditional Eid visits to graveyards and avoid all types of public gatherings, including the distribution of alms, Ashraff said. They were requested to conduct all charity activities in coordination with police and local medical officers.
The stricter controls on charity follow a deadly incident in Colombo’s densely populated Maligawatte suburb on Thursday, when private donations were distributed to the poor in the Muslim-dominated area and three women died in the resulting stampede.
N.M. Ameen, president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, told Arab News that no disturbances had so far been observed during this year’s Eid.
Ameen said that Muslims had been asked to avoid Eid shopping. “Instead, opt for online purchasing and home delivery, which is more convenient and also safer in the current context,” he said.
Although the plea was generally followed, some middle-class Muslim women in parts of Colombo were seen shopping in the Pettah area, where a number of shops remained open.
One of them, Noor Jezima, justified her decision by saying that she needed to buy clothes and gifts to reward her children for obediently fasting during the month of Ramadan. “As parents, we have to encourage our children to do good deeds with some incentives,” she said.