Mosques find new ways to cel­e­brate Eid dur­ing pan­demic

Edmonton Journal - - CITY -

Mosques across Canada are try­ing to sal­vage Eid cel­e­bra­tions as best they can dur­ing the COVID -19 pan­demic, with some opt­ing for drive-thru gift hand­outs while oth­ers plan to lead con­gre­gants in on­line pray­ers.

Eid al-fitr is a cel­e­bra­tion that comes at the end of Ra­madan — the month in the Is­lamic cal­en­dar where Mus­lims around the world forego food and drink from sun­rise to sun­set. This year, it starts af­ter the last fast on Satur­day and is cel­e­brated on Sun­day morn­ing.

Usu­ally, hun­dreds and thou­sands of Mus­lims crowd into neigh­bour­hood mosques or gather at parks for a con­gre­ga­tional prayer and ser­mon be­fore em­brac­ing with oth­ers and vis­it­ing homes for food and drink through­out the day.

That won’t be the case this year, so the Is­lamic So­ci­ety of North Amer­ica plans to hand out about 1,000 gifts to fam­i­lies dur­ing a drive-thru cel­e­bra­tion at its mosque in Mis­sis­sauga, Ont.

“It is a tough time. Peo­ple are still scared, there’s still a lot of un­cer­tainty, but we did not want that to over­shadow the joy of Eid and the spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence of Ra­madan,” said Chi­hab Kaab, chair of the ISNA board.

“That’s why we’re do­ing all this.”

The mosque has al­ready been do­ing a drive-thru meal ser­vice through­out Ra­madan. The prac­tice re­places com­mu­nity din­ners that are usu­ally held at mosques through­out the month to break fast.

On the first day of the ser­vice, ISNA man­aged to hand out 200 meals, but that in­creased to 1,200 meals on a sin­gle night by this week.

Kaab said the plan for Sun­day is to hold the drive-thru from 10 a.m. to noon, at which point fam­i­lies will go home and be able to ac­cess a pre-recorded ser­mon and in­struc­tions for fam­i­lies to do the Eid prayer at home.

The pro­gram will cap off with a video that shows chil­dren how to in­ter­act with some of the items in their gift bags.

A henna artist will show kids how to ap­ply a tube of the tem­po­rary tat­too ma­te­rial on their skin, while a bal­loon artist will show them how to make bal­loon an­i­mals.

“That way you’re con­nect­ing them, and there’s en­gage­ment,” said Kaab.

In St. Catharines, Ont., Masjid al-noor board mem­ber Hus­sein Ham­dani said a net­work of mosques dis­cussed ways to best cel­e­brate the hol­i­day while obey­ing phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing rules.

Masjid al-noor de­cided to re­lease an on­line ser­mon and give con­gre­gants in­struc­tions on how to do the Eid prayer at home with their fam­i­lies.

“It’s tough be­cause it’s been a month of fast­ing,” said Ham­dani, not­ing it’s a tax­ing time for Mus­lims, who gen­er­ally look for­ward to cel­e­brat­ing its end to­gether.

“We’re so his­tor­i­cally used to deal­ing with things in con­gre­ga­tion ... and so peo­ple are re­ally yearn­ing for get­ting to­gether and see­ing other peo­ple and cel­e­brat­ing.”

He said other mosques have opted to livestream the Eid prayer on Zoom to mimic how prayer is led by an imam in­side a mosque.

“It cer­tainly cap­tures the spirit of what the com­mu­nity is look­ing for, which his a bit of com­ing to­gether,” said Ham­dani, al­though he said his mosque chose not to do the prayer that way.

Back in Mis­sis­sauga, Kaab said he’s been over­joyed to see that the idea of drive-thru Eid cel­e­bra­tions is catch­ing on. Drive-thru meals for Ra­madan have also taken place in other parts of the coun­try, with Al­rashid Mosque in Ed­mon­ton hand­ing out over 1,000 meals in a day.

“I’ve seen posters all over the city pro­mot­ing the same thing,” said Kaab. “It’s beau­ti­ful. That was the whole pur­pose.”

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