Spirit of Idd upheld under corona cloud

Celebration not dampened by lack of mass prayers or social distancing

In Summary

• Idd amid coronavirus put a stop to all the traditions and festivities Muslims long for

Inside a mosque
Inside a mosque

After a unique Ramadhan of social distancing and no mass prayers, came an even more atypical Idd. Idd-ul-Fitr is a day that is used to mark the end of 30 days of fasting with pomp and celebration.

Traditionally, it is mandated that one must put on their best outfit before heading out to prayers. The Idd prayer is a mass prayer where hundreds of people gather at mosques or open fields to pray the special prayer that only takes place two times a year in the Islamic calendar.

After the prayers, traditionally, people greet each other with long handshakes and hugs as they wish each other a happy Idd. People then proceed towards family homes, where they go to greet the eldest members of the family. They move around neighbourhoods, greeting relatives, neighbours and friends and wishing each other on the joyous occasion. During these visits, it is customary to be greeted with the most delectable food and drink.


Children often go house to house, greeting family and strangers alike to greet them for Idd, which is a playful code for them asking for their gift. The Idi is a monetary gift given to children as a way of congratulating them for making it through the fasting period. Children have a blast collecting money from family and relatives on Idd morning, and spend the better half of the afternoon comparing their amounts.

Alas, this year’s special edition of Idd amid coronavirus put a stop to all the beautiful traditions and festivities that Muslims around the world look forward to. The special call to Idd prayer reverberated from the isolated mosques through the quiet neighbourhoods.

Moreover, although Kenya is not on full lockdown, most people avoided visiting family on this day as a means of maintaining social distancing. Rather, families and friends wished each other a happy Idd through phone calls and texts. 

With all the coronavirus protocols in place, Muslims around the world were resolved to have just as good an Idd celebration regardless of the current circumstances. People still dressed up in their finest attire, decorated their homes for the festivities and laid the table with assorted delectable dishes.

Families took Idd portraits in their homes or backyards to share with others who could not visit them on that day. Others shared snapshots of themselves in their Idd best on social media.

Families ate and laughed merrily, children received their Idi from immediate family members and M-Pesa from those who were far. In Kenya, children still went door to door in the neighbourhood to wish people a happy Idd in the prospect of receiving their Idi as movement is not restricted in certain areas during the day.

It was evident that the spirit was not to be dampened and the joyous mood could not be overshadowed. Seeing Muslims determined to have a good Idd, or give their families an Idd celebration they were used to, or even making sure children did not feel the difference in this year’s Idd celebration, was inspiring.


I could not help but reflect on how our own determination was the key to our own happiness. We could have easily had a terrible Idd and blamed it on the coronavirus and authorities for locking us down, but no. Everyone was determined to have a good time, if not for anyone else then for themselves.

For me, this was putting an emphasis on the school of thought that is we are masters of our own happiness. We cannot rely on others to make us feel good. Rather, we are the ones who hold the key to our own happiness. Life is what you make it.