Eid Al Fitr: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi leads prayers at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, marking the culmination of a months' fasting and beginning of Shawwal.
Thousands attend Eid Al Fitr prayers at Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Mosque
ABU DHABI // More than 40,000 Muslims attended Eid Al Fitr prayers at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque early yesterday morning.
Roads leading to the mosque were packed and parking spaces were at a premium, while traffic police were on hand to help guide the throng rushing to pray at 6.25am.
The mosque can house 40,000 worshippers but even that was not enough, with many people praying around the building. A festive mood prevailed, as women embraced and everyone shared Eid greetings.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, was among the many worshippers.
He was joined by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Foreign Minister; and Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister.
Other members of the Royal family also attended, as did Government ministers.
After the prayer, Sheikh Mohammed, members of the Royal family and other dignitaries prayed at the tomb of his father, the late Sheikh Zayed, the founding President.
The Grand Mosque has the largest gathering of worshippers in the UAE for Eid prayers every year. The presence of high-profile dignitaries meant security was increased and a large number of police officers were at all entry and exit gates.
Every worshipper had to pass security check-points with scanners.
Some had travelled from Saudi Arabia to celebrate Eid in Abu Dhabi.
Munzir Abdul Malik, from the holy city of Mecca, was on his first visit to Abu Dhabi.
“This year I wanted to celebrate Eid in Abu Dhabi, so I am going to stay for two more days,” he said. “This is first time I have seen this giant and very beautiful mosque.
“I had heard about it but wanted to see it, so I came.”
Another Saudi, Ritaj Nasir Nowwaf, said: “Ramadan ended and we pray to Allah to accept our good deeds and forgive us on this holy day.”
Referring to the mosque, he added: “I like this place, it’s great.”
Mohammed Yousuf, a Syrian resident of the capital, arrived at the mosque at 6am.
“I feel fantastic to pray here in such a huge gathering of people,” he said. “I pray to Allah to reward us with His bounties as we fasted for the entire month. This is the reward day.”
After the prayers, the imam recited an Eid Al Fitr sermon and asked Muslims to heed the lessons of generosity and obedience learnt during Ramadan for the rest of the year.
He asked Muslims to pay zakat al fitr so the poor could also enjoy the Eid celebrations.
The imam congratulated everyone after a successful Ramadan and urged people to enjoy Eid with their families and relatives, while also sharing their joy with the destitute.
In Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, performed Eid Al Fitr prayers at Zabeel Mosque.
He was joined by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Dubai Deputy Ruler and Finance Minister. Other sheikhs, senior officials and a large congregation of Muslim worshippers also attended.
On a smaller scale, worshippers gathered at Al Farooq Mosque near Safa Park.
Many generations of families, from children to grandparents, mothers and fathers, and Muslims of all nationalities attended daybreak prayers at about 5.45am.
The atmosphere was sombre to begin but as prayers finished, worshippers came together, embracing and smiling to mark the end of their month-long spiritual journey.
It was a similar scene in Ras Al Khaimah, when Eid prayers followed a night of revelry in the city’s salons, souqs and kitchens.
Men and women arrived in good time for prayers in their Eid best - except a few who, exhausted from the night’s preparations, had slept through their alarm.
Boys rushed with prayer mats bundled under their arms. Those who came too late threw their mats and sandals on the pavement outside the prayer ground.
Mohammed Yousef, 18, and his younger brother Ahmed were shaken awake by their mother. “Mostly we didn’t even have time to have breakfast,” said Mr Yousef. “I’m going home now to dress up.”
Some did not have their families to wake them.
“Now my family is not here, now my brain is not working,” said a Bangladeshi man who nearly missed the prayer.
He had returned from Bangladesh days before and had no one to wake him for Eid prayers.
Additional reporting by Anna Zacharias and Melanie Swan