“The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that the fasting man has two joys: one when he breaks his fast and another when he meets his Lord. We are left with only the latter. “Abdelmalek, an imam of a mosque, is not on his plate on this day of Eid el-Fitr, celebrated in Morocco and in several other Muslim countries. To stem the coronavirus pandemic, mosques have been closed since the beginning of Ramadan. The Supreme Council of Ulemas, the Kingdom’s highest religious authority, had announced that Eid prayers should be held at home. Objective: to preserve Moroccans from Covid-19. To do this, it relied on the rule of the Malekite rite which gives precedence to the preservation of human life over that of religious rites. “Normally, on Eid day, people come here to the mosque and then go to visit the family, exchange vows, gifts, cakes and hugs,” explains a nostalgic Abdelmalek, who regrets that none of this happened that year.
An Eid with a strange taste…
Despite the resplendent sunshine, the atmosphere at Eid in Morocco has been melancholy this year. People spent more time consoling themselves and chasing away the killing mood caused by the imposed curfew than taking advantage of this moment to show their joy and celebrate the end of a month of Ramadan.
“In normal times, we get up early, all together, we polish our hair, wear perfume, the most beautiful jellabas and belgha (traditional leather slippers, editor’s note), we dress our hair as well as possible to go to Allah’s house to perform the Eid prayer. But that year, everyone woke up at the right time and made his prayer alone. The only thing we shared was breakfast,” says Anas, a young engineer still living with his parents.
His brother Issam, on the other hand, is less dismayed. Since the state has forbidden family travel and visits on Eid, he had the presence of mind to go the day before to spend the last day of Ramadan with his grandparents. “They’ll say I’m lucky. I thought about spending the night at grandma’s because I knew that the next day I would be unable to do so. I’m the youngest in the family and therefore her favourite. I love her very much too. I couldn’t have spent this Eid without seeing her. I’m not going to break a 20-year-old habit because of a pandemic! ” Plastra Issam, student at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Social Sciences in Tangier.
As for the mother, Rahma, she is literally depressed. It’s the first time in her life that she will spend Eid without seeing her brothers and sisters. It’s all the harder since she lost her younger brother, Si Mohammed, a few days before Ramadan. “My daughter, her husband and her daughter could not come from Casablanca to Tangier as you know because of the ban on travel between cities. I could not go to the cemetery to visit the graves of my missing relatives. Nor was I able to visit my brothers and sisters. Nor could I go out walking at night with them in the city centre. Eid is the only opportunity for us to see each other once a year and renew our fraternal ties,” she explains. And she continues: “And I have the habit of not cooking the day after Eid. So we have the habit of buying bocadillos (a famous sandwich from northern Morocco, Editor’s note). I miss all this and I’m really sad,” Rahma admits. As for her sister, Amina, who loves Eid cakes, although she has prepared a very small quantity this year, she regrets above all not being able to taste the delights from the rest of the family.
While adults are upset for many reasons linked to their memories of Eid in the past, children are also feeling the pinch this year with the constraints linked to the Covid-19, which means that the word “feast” has to be put in quotation marks. “Eid is very different for us this year. Usually, during each visit to a family member, we receive “Aïdiya”, also called “Tadouira”. It is this sum of money that we are given to reward us for fasting all month or a few days, for being wise or for wearing the traditional Eid clothes,” explains little Ayman, Rahma’s son, who has to make do with the 150 dirhams offered by his parents, whereas thanks to the generosity of various family members in other years his scholarship could reach 500 dirhams.
Income from seasonal jobs collapsed
While the impact on families is mainly on mood, the same cannot be said for some seasonal economic activities, which have been negatively affected not only by the state of emergency declared since the beginning of the Covid-19 health crisis, but also by the curfew after 6 p.m.