London’s Muslim community celebrates virtual Eid holiday
LONDON, ONT. -- For the first time in 56 years, the London Muslim community didn't have a communal group Eid prayer.
Instead, a few officials stood in the empty London Muslim Mosque delivering a service virtually on the internet, and cable TV.
"Usually on a day of Eid you would find thousands of people," says Dr. Munir El-Kassem, the director of religious affairs at the Islamic Centre of Southwestern Ontario.
"As per rules of our province it is immediate family only. They are getting together, having a meal, and children are opening their gifts. It’s a day of happiness and togetherness."
With a two-person production crew, El-Kassem and few members of the local community delivered their message on the Eid holiday which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. They have been fasting from sunrise to sunset.
"It felt weird to be in the empty mosque," says Tahir, the chair of the London Muslim COVID-19 taskforce.
"We had a number of people working behind the scenes to deliver messages to get the technological platform ready to stream a virtual unity message today."
While the virtual celebration wasn't ideal, it did go smoothly. Officials say pulling this off would have been tougher if it was at the beginning of the pandemic.
"I think that eased the angst of not being able to gather in person as a group to have this virtual celebration," says Tahir.
"We really focused on that unity of bringing mosques together to bring greetings together. "
Dr. El-Kassem says while it is difficult to not gather with the community, it could end up being a blessing in disguise.
"This year you only have your family to celebrate with," says El-Kassem.
"You are re-discovering your family, and finding beauty of such a celebration in close proximity to the people you love."