Shaykh Munaf Mohamed is a man strongly rooted in the Islamic faith. For decades, he has been spreading the teachings of Islam- teaching Arabic on the Islamic Broadcasting Network and at the University of the West Indies’ Centre for Language Learning.
On Saturday, for the first time, Mohamed celebrated Eid, the end of the month of Ramadan, away from the mosque.
He is currently the Imam at the Islamic Centre in Kelly Village, Caroni, and for years, would have led the prayer on Eid to a congregation of over 400 people.
With COVID-19 changing the way the world works, Mohamed’s celebration of Eid was done quietly at home. Unlike most Muslims, Mohamed observed Eid on Saturday, when he said the crescent moon was sighted in the African nations of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
But like most Muslims, Mohamed was prepared to celebrate Eid on Sunday and said his wife had already placed orders for a special Eid lunch from a caterer.
“It is very sad that we cannot celebrate Eid at the masjid but we understand the calls to stay at home with our families,” Mohamed said. “Our Eid meal was ordered for today (Sunday) so we did not do much on Saturday and we will be having our meal today.”
He said COVID-19 has kept him away from his children and grandchildren, as he can no longer hug them whenever he sees them.
One of his sons is currently stuck in Saint Maarten.
“He cannot come back right now because the borders have been closed, it is very sad when your own children can’t come home.”
But despite the heartache felt by him and his family, Mohamed said he agrees completely with the measures taken by the Government to stop the spread of the virus as those steps were spoken off in the Qur’an.
“The Prophet Muhammad said if you are in a place where there is an epidemic, you do not leave that place and if you hear of a place where there is an epidemic, you do not go to that place. All of this was spoken about in the Qur’an.”
Mohamed said he strongly disagrees with Imams who ignored social distancing guidelines in order to keep services at the masjid.
“A lot of people will have five people in the Masjid to have the Eid celebration, who is going to determine who those five people are? How are you going to manage that? And for the people comparing going to the masjid to going to the supermarket, it is not the same thing. The Prophet Muhammed has said you can pray at your home.”
Mohamed said the Qur’an speaks of a call to prayer sent out by the Prophet Muhammad when there was heavy rainfall. He said that call to prayer instructed Muslims to stay at home and pray.
“If the Prophet Muhammad said you can pray at home because of heavy rainfall, what do you think you should do during a pandemic?” he asked.