Times change but de­vo­tions re­main the same

The National - News - The Review - - Time Frame -

What dif­fer­ence does half a cen­tury make? In 1966, Eid Al Fitr, the fes­ti­val which marks the end of the holy month of Ra­madan, fell on Jan­uary 23.

At the time it was es­ti­mated that there were only around 45,000 peo­ple in Abu Dhabi emi­rate as a whole, a tiny pro­por­tion of whom can be seen in this pic­ture from the BP Archive, gath­ered in prayer on the sands be­hind the south wing of Qasr Al Hosn.

To put things in per­spec­tive, a sim­i­lar num­ber of wor­ship­pers gath­ered for Eid Al Fitr prayers at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in 2014, 10,000 in­side the build­ing’s mighty prayer hall and 30,000 in its 18,000 square me­tre court­yard.

The Abu Dhabi in this photograph might be un­recog­nis­able to many read­ers but then, as now, the direc­tion of prayer was marked by the lo­ca­tion of the mihrab, or semi-cir­cu­lar niche, in the qi­bla wall, and men and women, who can just be seen on the edge of this photo, prayed in sep­a­rate spa­ces.

To­day’s qi­bla walls may be lined with gold and mar­ble but the peo­ple’s ori­en­ta­tion, like their piety, re­mains the same. Time Frame is a se­ries that opens a win­dow into the na­tion’s past. Read­ers are in­vited to make con­tri­bu­tions to [email protected]­ational.ae

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