First Eid in UK without Covid restrictions will be ‘monumental’, says British imam

British Muslims will be able to mark this year’s festival with families and loved ones in a more traditional way

Worshippers observe social distancing during the Isha evening prayers at Baitul Futuh Mosque, in Morden, south-west London, on the last day of Ramadan in 2021

One of Britain’s leading imams has said Eid celebrations will be “monumental” this year as Muslims enjoy the first holiday without Covid-19 restrictions since the pandemic began.

Qari Asim, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, said many traditions which were “sorely missed” for two years will at last return.

Muslims will be now able to embrace one another after Eid prayers, get together for large gatherings, and give gifts to loved ones after two years of muted celebrations due to coronavirus.

Imam Asim said it was “excruciatingly painful” to observe Eid last year without the usual festivities as the major relaxation of Covid restrictions was just a few days away.

But he said that, after an “extremely challenging” two years, mosques are now expected to be “flooded with people” as festivities get under way at full capacity.

“Eid is a jubilant occasion, where Muslims come together to celebrate, worship as a community and feast together with family and friends,” he said, speaking ahead of 2022’s celebrations.

“There will be monumental celebrations on the joyous occasion of Eid this year. Everyone is in high spirits and full of joy as this is the first time in two years that we can come together free of all Covid restrictions.

“Mosques all over the country are expected to be flooded with people. We are excited to partake in the communal Eid prayer, standing together shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Islam without a face mask or other distancing measures in place.

“It is traditional to hug each other after the Eid prayer, an expression of love that was sorely missed during Eids under restrictions.”

“It is a relief to have such a magnificent celebration return to some normality after such a long time… The past few years have been extremely challenging with the pandemic and various restrictions, so we are really looking forward to holding our family and friends in our arms and saying ‘Eid Mubarak’ – ‘blessed Eid’,” he said.

Mustafa Field, director of Faiths Forum for London, a leading interfaith charity, said events have been planned in parks, community halls and even shopping centres, with Westfield Stratford, a mall in the capital, organising a food court for the occasion.

“It’s great to see public spaces embrace different cultures,” he said.

“It strengthens our social ties and our diversity.”

“It was really difficult for people not to embrace each other, especially when you meet friends and loved ones. It’s not the same without being able to sit together and have a laugh, sharing good food and embracing each other, carrying different kids and gifting – it’s a really festive period.”

Updated: May 01, 2022, 10:11 PM