Eid in the bubble: Muslims in N.L. celebrate festival in a brand new way
Keeping true to the spirit of the festival of sacrifice, Muslims celebrate a safe and secure Eid al-Adha
This year, with the coronavirus raging across the world, Eid al-Adha celebrations are starkly different for Muslims across the world, including those who call Newfoundland and Labrador home.
"It's doesn't feel like Eid because it is about people coming together, whereas now we're having to maintain distance," said Maruf Dewan, a practising Muslim living in St. John's.
Eid al-Adha is associated with large gatherings, festivity and food.
Due to large numbers attending the prayers, Masjid-al-Noor, the only mosque in the province, needs a space as large as the Jack Byrne Arena to accommodate the growing Islamic population in the province. But this year, due to pandemic protocols, the mosque capped its capacity to 50 and held prayers in other locations across the city.
"We prayed at the St. John's Farmers' Market location where there were two prayer services held and as far as I know there was another one held at the Lions Club," said Dewan.
Festival of sacrifice
Eid al-Adha is the second-largest celebration for practising Muslims. The Quran, the Bible and the Torah scrolls speak of Prophet Ibrahim's devotion to God, willingly sacrificing his son Ismail when asked. As the story goes, his faith was rewarded when God asked him to sacrifice an animal instead.
This celebration also marks the end of hajj, a pilgrimage that every able-bodied and financially capable Muslim is expected to undertake at least once in their lifetime.
And much like hajj this year, Muslims in Newfoundland and Labrador did not perform their prayers shoulder to shoulder as they normally would. Standing in prayer, side by side, without spaces indicates that everyone is equal.
"There is no difference between a king or an average joe," said Dewan.
"It feels like you're not really praying in a congregation … even though you are in a congregation, technically."
Hugs and handshakes a thing of the past
A celebration like this calls for being with family and friends. A big part of the festivities is exchanging hugs after the prayers are finished.
"After you finish prayer, you basically hug everyone. Whether you know them or you don't know them, it doesn't matter. But this year you have no hugs. So it feels different," said Dewan.
While this Eid is a contrast to the ones celebrated in the past, Dewan said the community was keeping true to the spirit of the festival by doing their part through physically distant prayers, handwashing, and celebrating in their bubbles during the pandemic.