Park Ex Muslim community celebrates Eid al-Fitr in person
It was all smiles, handshakes and hugs along Jean-Talon on Monday morning as Park Extension’s Muslim community came together to celebrate Eid al-Fitr among friends and family for the first time in over two years.
Considered one of the most important and sacred religious events for almost 2 billion Muslims around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic had put a stop to Eid celebrations since 2020.
Marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan where people fast during the day, Eid al-Fitr celebrates a new year in the Islamic calendar and the new beginnings that it brings. People gather with family and friends to pray, give gifts and eat food together.
On Monday, hundreds gathered at Masjid of Noor-E-Madina on Jean-Talon to pray at one of the four assemblies, known as jamaats, held that morning. The mosque’s Imam gave a prayer, known as a khutbah, to devotees before they gathered to eat traditional sweets and socialize.
After more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions, Muhammad Razwan of the Masjid Noor-E-Madina was very happy to finally see the mosque full again. “People are very happy and they are very happy to participate,” said Razwan of Eid celebrations that morning.
With capacity limits no longer in effect, the mosque hosted 4 assemblies of roughly 250 people each. “So basically, we had like 1000 people this morning,” explained Razwan, comparing it to the much smaller capacity limit of 25 people last year.
“It’s like Christmas Eve, dinners and lunch together with family, giving gifts to kids and going to eat with other families,” said Razwan of his plans for the rest day. “Of course, I’m very happy about this,” he added.
Eid al-Fitr is also marked by giving to charity and caring for those who are less fortunate. The Noor-E-Madina mosque raises money during Eid to give to charity and to give back to the community both in Park Extension and overseas.
Different from last year
Ali Murtaza was at the mosque with his father and brothers on Monday morning for Eid prayers. His family runs Dera Restaurant on Jarry and provided the mosque with a traditional South Asian rice pudding to serve to those in attendance.
“The last two, three Eids because of COVID, there’ was limited space for 25 people, you couldn’t even meet each other and there wasn’t anything going on,” said Murtaza of last year’s celebrations.
“But this year there are many people, this is the fourth period going on and it’s full,” said Ali of the ongoing assembly. “People are enjoying their sweets and hugging each other and they’re really happy and hopefully it’s going to stay like that even in the next year,” he added.
For his part, he would spend the rest of the day with his family and friends and most likely go to Cineplex to enjoy a movie.
Happy to be with family
While people attend a morning jamaat at the mosque, much of the Eid al-Fitr celebrations are held at people’s homes or around the neighbourhood, taking the opportunity to contact friends and family in different cities or overseas.
Sadek Chowdhury is a long-time Park Extension resident, a devout Muslim and a proud family man and father. After two years of muted Eid celebrations, he was very pleased to be able to celebrate in full.
“Of course, I am very much happy,” said Chowdhury, adding that they would also make up for the celebrations he had missed out on, like Chowdhurys’ two eldest daughters who had since gotten married.
“After the celebration, we will go to Toronto to meet with them,” said Chowdhury jovially. “Friends of mine, their children also got married in the last year so we are visiting their houses also,” he added.
From coast to coast to coast
Observant Muslims in Park Extension were joined by hundreds of thousands more across the country who celebrated in person in large numbers for the first time in two years.
In Vancouver B.C., approximately 7,000 people gathered at the BC Place stadium to partake in communal celebrations organized by the Vancouver chapter of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC).
Thousands also gathered at the London Muslim Mosque in London, Ont. to celebrate together. “It’s a great tradition for us to come together and we’ve been in a lockdown for two years before this so missing out on it has been very difficult for the community. But this year we’re very happy and grateful,” said Imam Aarij Anwer to CBC News.