Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr with joy and worry

CAIRO (AP), -- The home of Mona Abubakr is filled with the aroma of freshly baked orange biscuits, powdered sugar-dusted cookies and other Islamic delights for Eid al-Fitr.

Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr with joy and worry

CAIRO (AP), -- The home of Mona Abubakr is filled with the aroma of freshly baked orange biscuits, powdered sugar-dusted cookies and other Islamic delights for Eid al-Fitr. The higher price of sweet treats meant that the Egyptian housewife made fewer of these sweet treats this year, which she gave as gifts to her relatives and neighbours.

This Eid began Monday in Egypt, many Muslim-majority nations and marks the end Islamic holy month Ramadan. The mother of three also modified another tradition. She purchased fewer outfits for her three sons during the three-day feast.

She said, "I told them that we must compromise on certain things to be able afford other things."

In the face of rising food prices, Muslims all over the globe are celebrating Eid al-Fitr this year. This is a time when Muslims celebrate the holiday with celebratory gatherings, prayers and festive meals. Many are determined to celebrate Eid al-Fitr despite the ease in coronavirus restrictions within their countries, while others are experiencing economic hardship and conflict.

Tens of thousands of Muslims prayed Monday morning at the largest mosque of Southeast Asia. When Islam's holiest time coincided with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic 2020, the Istiqlal Grand Mosque was shut down in Jakarta. It was also closed for communal prayers.

"Words cannot describe how happy and content I feel today, after being separated for two years by the pandemic." After Epi Tanjung and his wife had worshipped in another Jakarta mosque, they were able to do Eid prayer together. "Hopefully, all of this will make me more faithful."

Russia sanctions and the war in Ukraine have caused disruptions to grain and fertilizer supplies, leading to higher food prices at a time of rising inflation. For large amounts of wheat imports, many countries with Muslim majority are heavily dependent on Russia and Ukraine.

Even before the Russian invasion, unexpectedly strong global recovery after the 2020 coronavirus recession caused supply chain bottlenecks that led to shipping delays and drove prices higher for food and other commodities.

The fallout of the war in Ukraine has only added to the suffering of people already living in poverty, displacement, and turmoil.

Ramadan in Syria's rebel-held northwestern region of Idlib was harder this year than previous Ramadans. Abed Yassin stated that he, his wife, and their three children now get half the amount of products, including chickpeas and lentils as well as cooking oil, which they used to receive from an aid group last year. It has made it more difficult.

Syria's economy has been devastated by war, Western sanctions and corruption, as well as an economic meltdown occurring in Lebanon, where billions of dollars are held in Lebanese bank accounts.

Despite bustling streets and markets in Gaza Strip, many people say they can't afford much.

Um Musab, a mother to five children, said that the situation was difficult as she toured Gaza City's traditional market. "Employees barely earn a living, but the rest are crushed," she said.

Mahmoud Al-Madhoun bought date paste, flour, and oil to make Eid cookies. He said that financial conditions were getting worse. He added, "But, we are determined not to rejoice."

The fragile Palestinian enclave that relies on imports was already at risk before the Ukraine war because it had been subject to a strict Israeli-Egyptian blockade designed to isolate Hamas and its militant rulers.

Despite the grim economic and security conditions, Afghans celebrate the first Eid since the Taliban tookover. While many were cautious, they flocked to Kabul's largest mosques to pray on Sunday when the holiday began there.

The period leading up to Eid was marred by frequent explosions. Many people were concerned about whether Eid prayers could be held at mosques in the face of frequent explosions.

"We want them to resist us," Dr. Bakr Saeed, a community leader, said before Eid. "We will move forward."

There was more to worry about than violence. Afghanistan's economy has been in freefall since August's Taliban takeover, with inflation and food prices soaring.

Din Mohammad, a father to 10, told a Kabul charity food distribution center that he was expecting this Eid would be his worst.

He said, "With poverty no one can celebrate Eid as in the past." "I wish there were jobs so that we could purchase food for ourselves and not wait for others to feed us."

Muslims use a lunar calendar. Different countries or Muslim communities can declare Eid on different days using different methods, such as moon sighting.

This year, there were fewer Iraqi shoppers than usual who visited the capital's clothes markets. Celebrations are also plagued by security issues. Security forces have been on high alert from Sunday through Thursday in order to avoid attacks following a suicide bombing that occurred in Baghdad just before another major Islamic holiday, which killed many.

India's Muslim minorities are suffering from the vilification of Hindu nationalists. They have long supported anti-Muslim stances and some even incite against Muslims. At Ramadan, tensions escalated into violence with stone-throwing among Hindu and Muslim groups.

The faithful were warned by Muslim preachers to be vigilant during Eid.

Ovais Sultan Khan, an activist for human rights, stated that Indian Muslims are "proactively preparing themselves for the worst." "Nothing is the same as it was for Muslims in India, even the Eid."

Many Muslims rejoiced in the reviving of rituals that had been interrupted by pandemic restrictions.

As millions of Indonesians poured into major cities, they were able to board trains, buses and ferries ahead of Eid. They were able to celebrate Eid with their families in rural villages of the country's largest Muslim-majority nation. After two years of subdued celebrations due to pandemic restrictions, the return of the tradition at home caused much excitement.

Hadiyul Umam, a Jakarta resident, said that "the longing for (the Eid) celebration in a normal manner has finally been relieved today even though the pandemic is not yet over."

Despite pandemic warnings, food price rises and pandemic warnings, many people in the capital went to the mall to purchase clothes, shoes, and sweets just before the holiday.

Malaysian Muslims were also celebrating after the country's borders were reopened and COVID-19 was relaxed. Ramadan bazaars were crowded with shoppers, and many people traveled to their homes in order to shop at the malls.

Fairuz Mohamad Talib (a Kuala Lumpur sales manager) said, "It's an amazing blessing that we can now return to celebrate." After two years of being separated due to travel restrictions, his family will be celebrating at his wife's village.

He said that they would visit their neighbors after Eid prayers and chant praises to Prophet Muhammad. They will also share food at each stop.

He said, "It's about getting together, not feasting," ahead of the holiday. The family will wear masks when visiting COVID-19, as COVID-19 is still on their minds. "There won't be any handshakes, only fist bumps."

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Karmini reported from Jakarta in Indonesia and Gannon from Kabul (Afghanistan). Eileen Ng, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Wafaa Sharfa in Gaza City Strip, Gaza Strip; Aijazhussain, Srinagar; Bassem Moroue in Beirut; Samya Kuullab in Baghdad; Paul Wiseman, Washington, contributed reporting.

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Associated Press's coverage of religion is supported by The Conversation US and the AP's partnership with The Conversation US. Funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. This content is the sole responsibility of The Associated Press.

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