Canadian Muslims Use `Eid to Build Bridges

09/01/2006

 

`Eid prayers will be held in some 200 mosques and prayer rooms in Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

By Muneeb Nasir, IOL correspondent

TORONTO, January 9, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) – Canadian Muslims are racing time to prepare for `Eid Al-Adha, to be observed by the majority of world Muslims on Tuesday, January 10, hoping the celebrations would bring them closer to one another.

“We are trying to create a celebration in order to bring the community together to spend the day with each other,” Jeewan Chanicka, of the Muslim Association of Canada, told IslamOnline.net on Monday, January 9.

His group is organizing one of the larger gatherings in Toronto, which has one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in any North American city, including prayers and a day-long celebration at the Canadian National Exhibition facilities.

“We have been working diligently to have activities that will engage all age ranges especially young children.

“Our hope is to help build bridges and provide a venue for people who are without families such as refugees, immigrants and reverts,” added Chanicka.

In Winnipeg city, the provincial capital of Manitoba province, `Eid provides an opportunity for the entire community to get together.

“We only have one prayer in the whole city and usually this is the sole opportunity to see the whole Muslim community in Winnipeg,” resident Saqib Rajput told IOL.

“Every year our community also has a festival for children and a large dinner. This `Eid our community is putting on a concert and inviting Canadian Muslim recording artist Dawud Wharnsby,” he added.

Winnipeg has a Muslim population of 7,000.

Prayers

`Eid prayer services will be held at trade and convention centers as well as mosques across Canada, which has a Muslim population of over 750,000.

“There are about 4 different `Eid prayer locations in Ottawa,” said Iman Faris, host of a local radio program, Radio Islam.

“Each location has at least two prayer services. In one location they usually have an `Eid party for the kids with games, toys, clowns and entertainment.”

The Muslim population in the capital Ottawa has grown to 40,000 and a number of facilities are rented to hold prayer services.

There are some 200 mosques and prayer rooms in Toronto, Canada’s largest city and the provincial capital of Ontario.

The number of Canadian Muslims has increased dramatically over the last decade, according to a national census.

Islam has become the number one non-Christian faith in Canada.

Donating

Many Muslims will donate `Eid sacrifice to food banks for the Canadian poor.

In the spirit of `Eid Al-Adha, Canadian Muslims sacrifice either locally through Muslim grocery stores or arrange with a relief agency to have the sacrifice done in a needy region of the world.

In Toronto, a charitable organization, MuslimServ Inc., recently started a Zabiha Project to assist the poor.

“We conduct sacrifices on behalf of Canadian Muslims and the entire quantity of meat is donated to food banks for the Canadian poor,” Shah Nawaz Husain, the organization’s director told IOL.

“We process meat in one kg size packages with labels identifying that it is a donation from Canadian Muslims.

“Last year we delivered 5,000 lbs of meat to food banks in Toronto.”

The Daily Bread Food Bank of Toronto assists more tan 175,000 needy people each month.

In some areas of the country Muslims also have the option of doing their own sacrifice.

“We have two Muslim slaughter houses in the Ottawa region if Muslims care to perform their own sacrifice,” said Faris.

A financially-able Muslim sacrifices a single sheep or goat  or shares six others in sacrificing a camel or cow as an act of worship during `Eid Al-Adha.

The ritual reminds Muslims of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of God.

The meat is distributed amongst the neighbors, relatives, and the poor.

`Eid Message

Muslims kids are getting a chance to sign up for an interactive process of hajj and `Eid.

Canadian Muslims have the challenge of capturing the message of `Eid and making it relevant to young members of the community.

One Ottawa Islamic school has devised creative approaches to engage children.

“The local Islamic school, Abraar School, is doing a unique project by taking the local kids who sign up through an interactive process of hajj and `Eid Al-Adha,” said Faris.

“They have seven stations set up as steps in the hajj process. So kids make the intention and get into ihram, then they go to a big Ka`bah and do Tawaf and so on.”

He added that all through the kids “get to hear stories read out by older kids and they get questions and win prizes.”

Faris said participating kids get to do their own sacrifice.

“They even do a sacrifice which is eating Tim Horton Tim Bits (tiny donuts). They do crafts and other activities and have a great day.”