Muslims in the UK have been urged to celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid at home under lockdown this weekend.
Traditionally the festival at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan is marked with communal prayers in mosques, visits to friends and family.
But the Muslim Council of Britain says people should celebrate virtually due to social-distancing measures brought in during the coronavirus pandemic.
Guidelines for those celebrating have been drawn up by the council.
The special Eid al-Fitr prayers are typically among the best attended of the year, and people also mark the occasion by holding parties.
However, due to the pandemic, mosques have been closed for nine weeks.
Miqdaad Versi, head of public affairs at the MCB – an umbrella organisation of various UK Muslim bodies – says there was “real sadness” at the prospect of not being able to celebrate communally.
“Normally Muslims will be at the mosque, mosques will be thronging with people from the morning and households will not be just be [full] of individuals, but families, extended families and friends all coming together,” he said.
“So from a religious perspective, that’s really difficult. Every single year people get dressed up and go to the mosque and take part in this really important, obligatory for some, part of the faith. And that just won’t be possible.”
Qari Muhammad Asim, senior imam at the Makkah Masjid in Leeds and chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, said it was the first time in British Muslim history that there will no Eid prayer.
“This is something that was unthinkable six months ago, but today unthinkable has become reality,” he said.
“The Eid prayer is something that people look forward to all day long,” he said.
“This is extremely challenging and distressing for us. We have had to make a lot of spiritual sacrifices during Ramadan and that will continue on the day of celebration.”