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VIDEO: Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador celebrate Ramadan, blessed Eid

Dr. Mansoor Pirzada is the president of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. BARB SWEET/THE TELEGRAM
Dr. Mansoor Pirzada is the president of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. — Barb Sweet/The Telegram
Abdulhaqq Ibrahim of St. John's is a volunteer Imam for the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador's Masjid Al Noor mosque. BARB SWEET/THE TELEGRAM
Abdulhaqq Ibrahim of St. John's is a volunteer Imam for the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador's Masjid Al Noor mosque. BARB SWEET/THE TELEGRAM

Eid al-Fitr 2020 ends Ramadan tonight and while it’s been an extraordinary year, the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador has adapted its holy month with live streams from the closed mosque and a symbolic public call to prayers.

On one of the first warmer nights this year, about a half dozen members of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador gathered Thursday evening at sunset for a historic event at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in St. John’s.

With the mosque closed to the public and normal Ramadan activities disrupted — like everything else in life these past few months by COVID-19 — the association was given approval this week by the city to hold a public recitation of Adhan, a call to prayer which came Thursday at 8:39 p.m.

With the few members of the association, including president Dr. Mansoor Pirzada, outside in the parking lot, the broadcast came through an outdoor loud speaker as volunteer Imam AbdulHaqq Ibrahim was alone in the mosque prayer room, where his recitations were livestreamed to the Muslim community in their homes.

“(The COVID-19 pandemic) is quite shocking for everybody, but I think people have gotten used to it. But everybody feels sad about (not going to the mosque),” Pirzada told two reporters, including The Telegram, who attended.

“But now they have got used to it. Hopefully things are improving. … Once the government allows us to open up prayer places, places of worship, churches or mosques, accordingly we will have to adapt to that.”

He thanked the city for agreeing to the public broadcast of the call to prayer.

“This is absolutely a historic event and obviously a wonderful thing for us as Muslims and part of the community in St. John’s and in Newfoundland that we are able to do that. And I want to thank every one of them (the city),” Pirzada said.

He said the COVID-19 crisis has been a lesson in many ways,

“We realize how vulnerable a human being is. We think we are indispensable. And it has made us realize we are not indispensable, our lives can be taken in a fraction of a second. ... Our prophet said God will send the trials. Trials for mankind. This was one of the trials.

"I was telling my people — imagine, this was just a virus, a virus that basically made the entire world stand still, to come down to their knees.”

Members of the Muslim communiy, from their homes, have watched the daily prayer and Quran recitiaton livestream from the mosque.

“That has kind of kept our community cohesive and together in a way,” Pirzada said.

While the call to prayer isn’t actually meant to bring people to the mosque physically, it’s still an emotional connection to their place of worship to hear the broadcast — which continues tonight at sunset.

Ramadan, the holy month, is traditionally a time of gathering together for many people after the fasting of sunrise to sunset is done.

It began April 23 and in normal times, the end of Ramadan would have been celebrated with a mass prayer attracting thousands at a stadium, after which people would gather and celebrate. There is also a giving of gifts and clothes to loved ones.

“But now once the government has allowed a double bubble, people are hoping whatever their double bubble is … at least people have another family to come together so they can feast and stay together and have fun and gifts,” Pirzada said.

“At least they will do that.”

Supporting community

“We understand and appreciate the need for all these public health regulations,” said Ayse Akinturk.

“And we really hope and pray the unfortunate times will be over and we will get back to a better normal. Sometimes the times we left behind … sometimes through hardship we learn certain lessons and we can work together for a better future for everyone.”

She and her husband and 12-year-old son have taken advantage of the opportunity to spend more time as a family over the past few weeks.

“Teaching each other about our religion, about life, about our experiences. … In a way, though, it is sad all this that is going on, there are also good sides to it that we can learn from,” Akinturk said.

Pirzada noted that the charitable works of the association have continued with a list of people to help among the community, but it was not the public sharing of other years, obviously.

“As it is, we have been supporting our community financially and the food drive has also been providing food for their daily needs that we have been doing,” he said.

“Almost at the end of Ramadan we have a list of people, we will decide how many people (will) have financial assistance so they can be part of Ramadan so they can buy food, presents for their family. … All those things we usually do from the mosque, which is not happening. Again that is the new norm we are facing.”

Although Thursday was the second day the mosque was allowed to use the speakers outside, it was still a moving time for those few gathered.

The mosque, though closed, remains a place uniting the Muslim community in spirit even if they can’t go there to pray together.

“Every night we have come here so that the people at home can listen to the Quran and still stay connected to this holy month of Ramadan, as they cannot come to the mosque as in previous years,” Ibrahim said after the call to prayer finished.

In normal times Muslim members of the community would pray behind the volunteer Imam, rather than him reciting the prayers alone this year.

Afterward, the attendees ate dates to break the fast.

Translated, the call to prayer is: “God is Greatest. I bear witness that there is no god except the One God. I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of God. Hurry to prayer (Rise up for prayer). Hurry to success (Rise up for salvation). God is the Greatest. There is no God except the one God.”

barbara.sweet@thetelegram.com

@BarbSweetTweets

EARLIER STORY:

On one of the first warmer nights this year, about a half dozen members of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador gathered Thursday evening as dusk set in for a historic event at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in St. John’s.

With the mosque closed to the public and normal Ramadan activities disrupted — like everything else in life these past few months by COVID-19 — the association was given approval this week by the city to hold a public live aloud recitation of Adhan, a call to prayer at 8:39 p.m.

With the few members of the association, including president, Dr. Mansoor Pirzada outside — the broadcast came through an outdoor loud speaker as volunteer Imam AbdulHaqq Ibrahim was alone in the mosque prayer room, where his recitations were live-streamed to the Muslim community in their homes.


Ramadan, the holy month, is traditionally a time of gathering together for many people after the fasting of sunrise to sunset is done.

It began April 23 and in normal times, the end of Ramadan would have been celebrated with a mass prayer attracting thousands at a stadium, after which people would gather and celebrate. The start of Eid al-Fitr is Saturday evening.

“We hope and pray the challenging times will be over soon and we will be back to a better normal,” said Ayse Akinturk.


Abdulhaqq Ibrahim of St. John's is a volunteer Imam for the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador's  Masjid Al Noor mosque. — Barb Sweet/The Telegram
Abdulhaqq Ibrahim of St. John's is a volunteer Imam for the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador's Masjid Al Noor mosque. — Barb Sweet/The Telegram

Pirzada noted that the charitable works of the association have continued with a list of people to help among the community, but it was not the public sharing of other years, obviously.

Daily prayers have been live-streamed since the beginning of Ramadan.

Although it was the second day the mosque was allowed to use the speakers outside, it was still an emotional and moving time for those few organizers gathered.

The mosque, though closed, remains a place uniting the Muslim community in spirit even if they can’t go there to pray together.


Ayse Akinturk is a member of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, which is celebrating Ramadan. BARB SWEET/THE TELEGRAM
Ayse Akinturk is a member of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, which is celebrating Ramadan. BARB SWEET/THE TELEGRAM

To two reporters who attended, including The Telegram, the few organizers gathered thanked city officials for allowing it to happen.

Afterwards, the attendees ate dates to break the fast.

Translated, the call to prayer is: “God is Greatest. I bear witness that there is no god except the One God. I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of God. Hurry to prayer (Rise up for prayer). Hurry to success (Rise up for salvation). God is the Greatest. There is no God except the one God.”

— Full story in Saturday’s Telegram.


 Moein Shahwan. — Barb Sweet/The Telegram
Moein Shahwan. — Barb Sweet/The Telegram


Twitter: @BarbSweetTweets | facebook.com/TelegramBarbSweet


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