Our postmasters and customers come from varied, diverse communities. This weekend, many branch teams will be joining millions of people across the UK to marking the important Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.
We caught up with two of our postmasters; Abdul Basit, Sharrow Vale branch, North West and North Wales Region, and Rizwan Salahuddin, Harringay and Finsbury Park branches, Greater London Region, to understand a bit more about how they will be celebrating this year.
What does Eid mean to you?
Abdul: I would say family. It’s celebrating with family and having a meal together, but the meal is a symbol for getting together and spending time with each other that you wouldn’t normally do.
Rizwan: Eid is celebrated twice a year - Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha - by coming together with family and going to the mosque for special prayers. This year we will miss out as all of the mosques are closed. We would also normally get together with family, but because of the pandemic that’s not going to happen.
What have been some of the challenges faced by you and your loved ones during this time?
Abdul: Normally every year there are gatherings at everybody’s houses, but obviously this year we couldn’t do that so we’ve just been at home. It hasn’t really felt like Ramadan because there’s been no meeting or mingling with anybody. But then the other aspect of Ramadan is that you stay home, pray, and give to charity – most people have done that more this year because they haven’t been spending money on big celebrations – instead they’ve been helping the homeless or raising funds for PPE.
My dad would normally fast and hasn’t been able to this year, so the money that he would have spent on his food he’s given to charity to feed somebody else. Those who can’t fast will donate money to feed others who can’t afford to have a meal.
Rizwan: It has been a very tough time for everyone, not just our religion but for others too. For example churches were closed through Easter. We’re all in this together.
How will you be celebrating this year and how is that different to what you’d normally be doing?
Abdul: Normally I would get my Eid clothes, have a big party and go to visit family. This year there won’t be that. You can’t get new clothes in the shops, so it’s all been online shopping. It’ll be weird not meeting anyone and not going to the mosque.
Rizwan: We’ll be spending the whole day at home. This year it’s about staying safe and saving lives. We need to look after our NHS too. We will definitely celebrate, but it will be at home. Eid is very important in our religion but during this pandemic we’re all in this together.
All of our Muslim members of staff will have the day off to spend with their families at home. We do this for all of the faiths of our team members.
Is there anything you’d like to add about your experience this year?
Abdul: Normally people associate Ramadan with Muslims, but there’s more to it than just fasting or eating. If you were to think of the face: with the eyes-see no evil, with the mouth-say no evil and with the ears-hear no evil – it’s about being kind to people. People will be nicer to each other despite not having eaten. It’s about bringing that out of your inner self and being more patient with yourself and others.