Fort McMurray celebrates Eid ul Fitar Amid Heightened COVID Restrictions
The yummy food was prepared, the gorgeous dresses worn, and the house was abuzz with excitement – but limited to just those at the residence. However, the Syed family made the most of it like many around the world celebrating another quiet Eid amid a pandemic – for the second year in a row. Eid ul Fitar is a three-day festival, which marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan on May 13, 2021. The region is reeling with a surge in COVID cases and is now under heightened provincial socializing restrictions – with no guests allowed inside houses, and only five individuals outside, as we hit over 1500 cases. There is a local state of emergency enforced as well.
“We prayed in the morning, and just came home. It was odd once again to not see friends for Eid, exchange gifts, and have our usual huge parties, but this is for the best. Practicing Muslims take care of their community at large, and all of us are abiding by the restrictions no matter how heartbreaking it is. Here’s hoping the next Eid in two months and 10 days will be a better one,” said Juvaria Javaid Syed, who has been a local resident for over 17 years.
And that’s exactly it, Muslims take care of everyone regardless of race and religion. Shaikh Abdurrahmann Murad, one of the leaders of the Islamic congregation dubs Eid a “time of charity” also.
“Although it is a celebration, Eid is also a time for charity; Muslims take extra steps to care for the poor and needy. The pandemic has not changed these principles; in fact, our community has found innovative ways to stay connected and revive the spirit of Eid among themselves. Many from our congregation were incredibly grateful that they were able to pray on the day of Eid and they felt very safe, as Markaz implemented many measures to maintain and protect the well-being of all attendees.”
Indeed, Markaz ul Islam, the Islamic Centre of Fort McMurray secured special permission from Alberta Health Services (AHS) for Eid congregational prayers with only 15 people in one prayer hall amid highly strict COVID protocols enforced. Many families stayed inside their cars to pray at the parking lot on Abraham’s Land in Dickinsfield.
“Markaz Board arranged nine prayers at the Abraham’s Land location, and eight prayers at the downtown location starting from 6 a.m. to noon. We were extremely strict in ensuring everyone was registered, and socially distant. There were three different entry and exit points with hand sanitizers at each entry, and new masks at the entrance. Permission was secured from AHS for families to pray in their cars as they adhered to AHS regulations,” explained Mohamed Ali Al-Zabidi, President, Markaz ul Islam.
Goody bags were distributed to children during a drive-through celebration. A competition for the “best decorated,” car also increased the festivities.
“Despite the pandemic we wanted children to feel the joy brought by Eid. It was great to see the smiles. And none of this would’ve been possible without our amazing volunteers, who went above and beyond to make a difference. Our Board is extremely grateful to all our incredible volunteers, especially youth. And, for this purpose, we have arranged a drive-through volunteer appreciation BBQ for all of them on May 29, 2021 at Abraham’s Land to show our gratitude,” added Al-Zabidi.
Muslims will celebrate Eid ul Adha in July marking the end of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
For more information about Markaz ul Islam, visit their newly re-designed website: https://markazulislam.com/