Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 5 December 2019

Joyous scenes as UAE worshippers gather for Eid prayers

Friends, relatives and strangers embrace outside mosques across the country

During the last moments before dawn, worshippers made their way towards Zayed the Second Mosque in the heart of Khalidiya.

Many travelled in groups on foot to exchange Eid greetings on the way, in a sea of people moving through the streets.

It is customary for Muslims to perform Eid prayers at the neighbourhood mosque so they can meet friends and neighbours, while dozens of men chanted Eid prayer outside.

The voices differed and the accents varied, but the rhythm was one as they said: “God is greatest, God is greatest, God is greatest and there is no God but God, God is greatest, God is greatest and for God we show gratitude”.

Men, women and children rushed to the prayer halls to line up, while some posed for a photograph first.

Mohammed Salam, from Pakistan, was celebrating his fourth Eid away from home.

You also find many nationalities, it reminds me of how inclusive Islam is

Tajaleyat Al Toum, Saudi worshipper

But this time he had more reason to celebrate as his wife is visiting Abu Dhabi.

“After the prayers we will go visit our relatives,” said the 26-year-old. “We will eat together and celebrate.”

He will also be spending his three-day holiday showing his wife around Dubai and Yas Island and dining outside, in spite of the heat.

“We don’t feel homesick, we have many friends and family members here,” he said.

Inside the prayer halls, lines of worshippers had already filled up and there was no room left for latecomers to pray inside. As the imam started performing the prayer, worshippers started forming lines outside behind the halls.

Ten minutes later when the imam pronounced the end of the prayer, worshippers began shaking hands and greeting one another.

Adulrahman Al Ahmad ran into his schoolmate outside the men’s hall.

“I live nearby so I found many friends and neighbours here today,” said the 15-year-old from Syria.

The grade 11 pupil said he is mostly looking forward to receiving his Eidiya – an amount of money given by parents and older relatives during Eid.

“We usually meet up with our relatives who live in Saudi Arabia as well,” he said.

Tajaleyat Al Toum stood at the mosque’s doorstep taking pictures of her two nieces.

Eid prayers at Zayed The 2nd Mosque. -- A father and son together for Eid prayers. Victor Besa/The National 
A father and son together for Eid prayers. Victor Besa / The National

“This is my second Eid here, I am visiting my brothers,” said the 35-year-old from Saudi Arabia.

“Eid here is similar to back home. You also find many nationalities, it reminds me of how inclusive Islam is.”

Her nine-year-old niece Yumna Mukhtar said she was performing Eid prayers for the first time.

“We prayed outside because there was no space, it was fun.

“I think Eid prayers are the best part of Eid, and the sweets of course,” she added.

Ten-year-old Zeyad Owais waited patiently for his grandmother, mother and aunt to step outside the women’s hall after the Eid sermon.

“I enjoyed the prayers but I did not enjoy the wait,” he said as his family finally stepped out.

He was visiting his aunt from Cairo, along with his grandmother, mother and sister.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 11, 2019. Eid prayers at Zayed The 2nd Mosque. Friends and relatives great one another after Eid prayers. Victor Besa/The National Section: NA Reporter: Haneen Dajani
Eid prayers at Zayed The 2nd Mosque. Friends and relatives great one another after Eid prayers. Victor Besa / The National

“I always go to Eid prayers," he said. "It is the same experience here, I always pray alone because my friends live far away.”

His grandmother Samia Owais said there is a huge difference between the number of worshippers here and at the local mosque back home.

“Many more people show up there, we have 100 million people of course every mosque will be crowded,” said the 60-year-old.

Their host Dua Badee said she always performs Eid prayers at this mosque, but was taking her daughter Nahla, five, and Laya, three, with her for the first time.

“My cousin said you have to take the children so they can feel the Eid vibes,” said the 30-year-old housewife.

“So they can get used to the tradition,” said the cousin Shayma Sayed, 35.

The same concept was followed by Mohammed Salah, who brought his two-year-old daughter with him to the prayer.

“I always bring her with me so she’ll get used to praying at the mosque,” said the 34-year-old Egyptian as he tried to put her shoes back on.

“Thank God she stays quiet and doesn’t move.”

He even brought his two-month old son with him, “but he stayed outside the hall with his mother”.

He said he does not feel homesick or the need to travel during Eid – “we have been here for 11 years; we feel at home”.

Mohammed Abu Rashid plans to spend his Eid capturing celebrations across public areas in Abu Dhabi.

“I am here on a visit visa looking for a job, I don’t have any friends yet, the camera is my friend,” said the 25-year-old photojournalist from Syria.

“There is a huge difference between Eid here and back home, Eid is mostly felt with the family around, but here there is also a special feeling to it.

“Seeing all of the different nationalities gather for Eid prayers feels special,” he said.

“Many of them don’t speak Arabic yet they can pronounce Allahu Akbar [God is greatest] perfectly.”

Updated: August 11, 2019 03:49 PM

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