REGINA – About 5,000 Muslims filled the Conexus Arts Centre Monday morning for Eid prayers, the culmination of about a month of daily fasting during Ramadan.
“The first prayer I had here 20 years ago, it was only half [full],” said Ahmed Aboudheir, president of the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan (Regina).
The prayer was held three times; each session filled up considerably.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstained from water and food between sunrise and sunset, which lasted about 16 hours daily on average in Regina.
Ramadan is about connecting spiritually, and strengthening self-control. Aboudheir said the month also emphasizes why being charitable is important.
“[Ramadan teaches] the people how to be generous when it comes to poor countries and poor children,” he said. “They can’t get three meals per day.”
A number of people at the prayers donated to a nearby booth collecting money for Islamic Relief Canada. The funds will go to help children in Gaza affected by the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“Some people, actually, they don’t have even shelter. They stay on the streets. They go for days without eating,” said Abdalla Muftah, who collected the donations, of the people in Gaza.
Warda Bashir, 14, has fasted for Ramadan in previous years.
“It was hard, but then after the next few days you get used to it, so it becomes easier,” she said.
But in the dog days of summer, the temptation was everywhere.
“When [people are] eating, like, this brownie or something, I’m just, like, my stomach starts growling or something, and then I get really hungry. But I know that I have to keep trying,” said Faduma Ismail, 13.
Eid is also a time to celebrate, which is often done with family members.
“Sometimes we play games and go places like Chuck E. Cheese’s,” said Bushra Adan, 9.