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'Stay home': Muslim leaders urge followers to follow lockdown laws during Eid al-Adha

مسلمانان در حال ترک مسجد گالیپولی اوبرن بعد از ادای نماز عید اضحی در سال ۲۰۲۰ Source: AAP

Muslim leaders are calling on their followers to stick to Covid-19 lockdown regulations as one of the most symbolic holidays in the Muslim calendar begins.

Muslims across Australia and the world will observe Eid al-Adha from Monday night to Friday, July 23.

The religious festival of sacrifice is the latter of two significant holidays celebrated in Islam and is usually marked with large family gatherings.

It comes as health authorities in New South Wales and Victoria scramble to contain Covid-19 outbreaks that have sent their capital cities into lockdown.

Australia's Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed told SBS Arabic24 all Australians “face one of the toughest times in human existence”. 

He's urging Muslims in the states affected by lockdowns to stay home during the religious festival, and signalled that his followers “must give up some freedom temporarily”.

Grand Mufti of Australia Ibrahim Abu Mohammed speaks during an Interfaith gathering for victims of the Christchurch terror attack at St Mary's Cathedral
Grand Mufti of Australia Ibrahim Abu Mohamed speaks during an Interfaith gathering.

"During these circumstances, restrictions are forced upon us which eat into a considerable chunk of our freedoms,” he said. 

“We have to be patient and wise and we must sacrifice a little bit of space temporarily and cooperate with the health and law enforcement authorities. 

"We have to pray at home and stick to lockdown laws."

Dr Mohamed said protecting life is of the “utmost priority” during this time and added that supporting family members during Eid al-Adha “can happen via telephone or video calls". 

Sheikh Youssef Nabha, Imam of Al-Rahman Mosque in Sydney, said complying with the current lockdown restrictions was “critical” and a “legal and moral commitment” to maintain safety. 

"Even though it's Eid, which is a day for visiting friends and family, we hope everyone will stay home because this pandemic is spreading amongst people."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during a COVID-19 press conference in Sydney.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during a COVID-19 press conference in Sydney.

On Monday, New South Wales recorded 98 new locally acquired coronavirus cases, as new restrictions came into force.

As part of the measures, trade workers across Greater Sydney have downed tools as construction sites shut down for two weeks.

Of the cases on Monday, two-thirds came from suburbs in southwestern Sydney.

“I haven’t seen my parents for a month and I know that is small compared to what other families are going through. I ask everyone to think about their loved ones, they might be doing the right thing," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Monday.

“We need families to stay in their family home and not move from household to household. Unfortunately, too many people are getting sick from that."

Victoria recorded 13 new local COVID-19 cases on Monday.

The new measures come after a video surfaced last week showing Sydney man Khaled Elmasri's plea for his community to: “Take COVID-19 more seriously.” 

This video was disseminated by Mr Elmasri's GP, Dr Jamal Rifi, a general practitioner in Sydney's southwest and a regular SBS Arabic24 contributor.

“Khalid wants to share the following video so people can take the advice from someone who got very sick,” Dr Rifi said on-camera in Arabic. 

“Because we don’t want any of you to go through what he experienced.” 

Dr Rifi (left) and Khaled (right).
Dr Rifi (left) and Khaled (right).

Ahead of the religious festival, Sheikh Mohamed Al Semiani, the Imam of Ahl Albyt Mosque in the Sydney suburb of Auburn, spoke to the "important task" that the Muslim community in Australia had to keep the wider community safe. 

"We must all take precautions to preserve our lives because Islam asks a person to protect the safety of his community and defend it from any harm." 

He emphasised the Islamic hadith of, “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm", a concept calling on Muslims to neither cause harm to themselves or others.

According to Islamic scripture, on the first day of Eid, Muslim observers usually sacrifice a sheep or lamb to commemorate Islamic prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismaeel when he was commanded by Allah.

As a reward for Ibrahim's obedience, God replaced Ismaeel with a sacrificial lamb and spared his life.

Millions of Muslims around the world mark the event by distributing the meat to friends, family and the poor. 

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