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Worshippers line up at mosques to perform Eid Al Adha prayers

Family members gather to greet each other and pray together

Staff Report

Thousands of worshippers of all ages and nationalities lined up at mosques across the UAE on Saturday to perform Eid Al Adha prayers, while observing measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Eid Al Adha is one of the most significant dates in the Islamic calendar and one of the holiest celebrations.

For Muslims, it represents joy and happiness and gathering with loved ones.

Worshippers perform prayers on the first morning of Eid Al Adha at Bani Hashim Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National

On Saturday, traffic police guided drivers as worshippers rushed to find a parking space.

Around Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque, in Dubai’s Al Safa area, worshipers tried to secure a spot in the mosque.

The entry and exit of worshippers at mosques were supervised by volunteers and imams, to prevent overcrowding and maintain order.

Driven by the imam, worshippers unfolded their hands from their chests and quickly raised them to their heads before kneeling and posturing up again.

Masks remained mandatory indoors.

After finishing the prayer, worshippers kept sitting and listening to the imam who gave a small speech.

“Eid Al Adha represents joy and happiness,” said the imam at Al Farooq mosque.

“People can’t enjoy Eid if their hearts are full of hate for others.”

When the prayers were over, family and friends gathered to greet each other properly.

Mohammed Shafee, a 35-year-old Indian man, was holding the hands of his five-year-old son Mohammed Shams and greeting his friends.

“I make sure every year to bring my family to perform Eid Al Adha prayer. It is a joyful day. It is a must to start the celebration with Eid prayers,” said Mr Shafee.

“I encourage my child to continue the habit of praying.”

For Mohammed Riad, a 47-year-old trading company chief executive from Sri Lanka, performing Eid prayers with his brother became a tradition during his 20-year stay in the UAE.

“This year, my brother brought me to this mosque to perform Eid prayers. Eid is a celebration and gathering with family members. We will go later for sacrifice,” said Mr Riad.

Eid Al Adha’s name translates to ‘festival of the sacrifice,’ and it marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

While worshippers were greeting each other, a man distributed Kleicha — traditional cookies in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

“It is our tradition to distribute Kleicha during Eid Al Adha. This day is a source of happiness and joy as we meet with our loved ones to pray and later to sacrifice and gather on meals,” said Mr Salah Al Deen, a 19-year-old student from Iraq who lives near the mosque.

Mr Nabeel Al Khouri, an Emirati resident who has been living in the neighbourhood for nearly 18 years, says he felt the spirit of Eid after hearing the familiar call to prayer and seeing worshippers head to the mosque.

“Eid is a chance to meet with other family members and friends. It is a beautiful atmosphere,” said the 60-year-old.

“We make sure to go in the morning to greet our parents and elderly relatives. It is our tradition.”

Their children, he says, are particularly excited to receive Eid money — or Eiddiyah — from the elders of the family, as is customary during the holiday.

A group of worshippers dressed in white gathered outside the mosque taking pictures and greeting each other.

Mr Mohammed Omran, a 35-year-old Indian employee, said this year Eid Al Adha is different as his two brothers arrived from India on Friday to meet other family members in Dubai after a long break due to the pandemic.

“This is our first Eid gathering since Covid-19. My brothers came from Mangalore city in India to celebrate Eid with me and other family members,” said Mr Omran.

They were planning to make a sacrifice and later will gather around the table for lunch.

“Our mother will make a traditional Mangalore biryani for launch. We will gather around one table to have food. It is a tradition for us,” he said.

As worshippers left the mosque, a group of friends gather talking outside the mosque to decide what they will do next.

Mr Mohammed Shouhil, a 31-year-old Indian salesman, said they are a group of single men and decided to come for Eid prayer before going for breakfast.

“I’m a resident in the UAE for eight years, and every Eid we make sure to have our prayer together and then go to have breakfast. Eid is a peaceful day and we chill and relax during the holiday,” Mr Shouhil said.

Public sector workers will enjoy a long weekend to mark Eid Al Adha.

The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources said the holiday would run from Friday, July 8, until Monday, July 11.

Work will resume on Tuesday, July 12.

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