Well, it seems that no amount of spiritual rejuvenation can protect a faithful body from Swine Flu. Today is Eid al-Fitr, the feast that concludes Ramadan, but in anticipation of public celebrations across the Islamic world many governments are issuing precautions.
At the heart of the minor panic is the return of pilgrims from the Hajj, where the gathering of thousands of pilgrims from dozens of countries may have helped spread the feared disease. According to a widely circulated AFP story today:
"Jordanians have been urged to refrain from kissing each other in a bid to combat the contagious disease... 'People should not kiss at social events and gatherings. Instead, they should just shake hands,' the Amman government's fatwa (religious edict) department said in a statement ahead of Eid when families and friends gather in large groups...
"In Cairo, where two people have died from the A(H1N1) flu virus and nearly 900 cases have been reported, preachers suggested that worshippers perform the traditional Eid dawn prayer at home rather than in crowded mosques... Airport authorities have reinforced swine flu testing measures as the end of Ramadan means the return of thousands of pilgrims from Saudi Arabia...
"Indonesian officials fearful of swine flu spreading set up thermal scanners at the open house event [at the Presidential palace], which is part of a custom that sees people throughout the country ask for forgiveness from others for slights and offences..."
And, even though Saudi Arabia issued no precautions with respect to Swine Flu, "many Saudis were expected to stream into neighbouring Dubai and Bahrain for Eid. Both locations are popular for those seeking a break from the ultra-conservative kingdom's restrictions on movies, music and alcohol."
So, from the Tuque Souq to you, wherever you are hiding from the Swine Flu:
رمضان مبارك - كل عام و انتم بخير