I would like to wish you and your family a happy and joyous Eid Mubarak.
As I said a month ago, Ramadan this year has been observed very differently due to the coronavirus pandemic. I appreciate the difficulties this has posed, but I am proud of Hackney’s Muslim community who have been patiently observing lockdown measures during this special month, to help save lives. So I want to take this opportunity to say thank you, but also that I have missed visiting mosques and families as I would normally do at this special time of year.
The holy month of Ramadan is usually a time for the Muslim community to join friends and family for prayers and to break the fast together at iftar. Despite the challenging circumstances that Ramadan has taken place in this year, I have been impressed at the innovative ways that the Muslim community have remain connected. From virtual iftars to streaming prayer services – there were plenty of opportunities to celebrate this month with others.
Whilst residents could not physically join each other for worship at this time, it was important that connections were found in new ways and to also help those with no access to the internet to feel connected during this month. This is why I was so pleased to be a part of the team that supported the Council in permitting a number of mosques in Hackney to play the call to prayers for the evening Maghrib prayer, which signifies the breaking of the fast and for the special Friday afternoon prayers. The feedback from mosques, the Muslim community, but also from other Hackney residents from across the borough has been overwhelming and I know offered comfort to many at this difficult time.
I was also pleased to attend the first ever virtual Hackney Day of Prayer service alongside Deputy Lt Morris, Deputy Mayor Bramble, Cllr Etti and our Speaker, which brought together Hackney’s diverse faith communities to collectively join in prayers and draw strength from one another. I would welcome the chance to join you virtually if there are any opportunities around Eid over the coming week.
Ramadan is often characterised by immense charity. That charitable spirit was clearly displayed in Hackney where members of Stamford Hill Mosque and other members of the local Muslim community have been supporting staff working at Homerton Hospital with food and drink or at Quba Mosque who, along with North London Muslim Community Centre, have been providing freshly cooked food to those in need, to name just two examples. The Nawaal Fund as always continues to inspire and I have benefited from a gift of food from our own Speaker of Hackney.
The festival of Eid marks the end of Ramadan and I know many are wondering whether they will be able to pray in congregation or meet with family and friends on Eid ul-Fitr. Unfortunately, places of worship remain closed and Government guidance still advises against meeting with more than one person outside of your household. As such, Hackney mosques, parks or other public spaces cannot be used for Eid ul-Fitr prayers or any other form of gathering. We continue to engage with the Government about what might happen in the future and I know some of you may also be a part of these conversations.
I am sad to miss out on the chance to be with you all at this time, but I am confident that the Muslim community will once again utilise innovative ideas to share the joy of Eid with others virtually.
Once again, thank you for observing Ramadan at home this year and for all you have done to stay safe and support one other through this difficult time.
And on behalf of all of us at the Council I wish you all a joyous Eid celebration. Eid Mubarak.
Mayor of Hackney
Sources of guidance and information
The Muslim Council of Britain has produced practical advice for how to observe Eid at home this year: https://mcb.org.uk/press-releases/eid-al-fitr-2020/
Find out more about how Hackney Council is responding to coronavirus (Covid-19) and sign up for updates: https://hackney.gov.uk/coronavirus
Local support is available within Hackney for residents who need help. If you or someone you know needs practical support during the coronavirus outbreak, you can contact Hackney Council via the webpage https://hackney.gov.uk/coronavirus-support#vulnerable or by calling 020 8356 3111 (8am-5pm Monday-Friday).