By any stretch of the imagination, it’s an awe-inspiring sight – tens of thousands of people bent down in prayer to mark the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting. At the front of the gathering, Sheikh Mustafa Abu Rayyan of Green Lane Masjid led prayers here for the first time, having started his journey by memorizing the Quran at a young age.
Across the field, behind him, listening intently, were rows of men, with rows of women farther away – many with single or even double buggies. The sexes separate for prayers ‘to help focus’, but in the several years I’ve been covering this event, today’s version of May Bank Holiday Monday was also the gathering with the ‘happiest’ cries. during prayers of babies in arms, a sign that it is becoming a more family occasion.
At the first event held for three years because of Covid-19, there was also no speech bordering on politics, whether it was those advertising the Islamic charity fundraising needs or even counselors who discuss everything from littering to knife crime. The only focus this year, organizers told BirminghamLive, would be on prayers. Living up to their word meant they were also able to stick to a schedule.
Read more:Eid Mubarak – live updates, prayers and celebrations for Eid ul Fitr 2022 in Birmingham
The day started with a light mist hanging over the city center as seen from the railway bridge next to Small Heath station. Nearby, in Small Heath Park across the A45, volunteers had been checking the grass overnight to see if it would be dry enough for a mass gathering. At dawn, the call went out to move forward.
Normally, long sheets of plastic are laid out so people know where to sit, a feature that is supposed to help count attendance. This year, narrow lines had been drawn and worshipers were encouraged to bring their own mats to make the whole event much easier to organize – and cancel if the skies had opened up. You can see our Eid 2022 photo gallery in the photo story here:
There were no “cherry pickers” present this year, for members of the press to capture aerial views – but organizers were sending a drone to do it that way instead.
The rally inside the park was orchestrated by Green Lane Masjid, but around the corner from the central Jamia Ghamkol Sharif Mosque, BirminghamLive was earlier welcomed inside by President Ahsan Ul-haq who posed for photos with three volunteers.
Imam Anis Ahmed told us: “Muslims spend Ramadan in worship and devotion and after a whole month of devotion and worship. On Eid day we celebrate, we meet, we we salute and we express happiness in all its forms.”
Back outside, traffic was starting to build up along Golden Hillock Road towards the island with Wordsworth Road, dominated by the usual gathering of dozens of pigeons on a local rooftop.
Inside the gates to the park, on either side, was the curious site of two large piles of broken bread with french fries on top. When BirminghamLive asked what they were for, a man standing nearby told us, “They have nothing to do with the mosque or the event. I don’t know why people do that. Birds won’t eat it, only rats. “
Streams of happy people were beginning to stream into the main prayer area, looking verdantly lush at this mid-spring stage as Ramadan continues its lunar cycle returning towards winter with each passing year. This year there were no balloon arches over the park’s walkways to add even more pops of color but, in the distance, you could see Tyseley’s incinerator tower rising above above the tree line.
Thousands of women gathered in the rows at the back and many remained chatting long after most of the men had left the place of worship.
Up front, official guests included Simon Foster, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Cllr John O’Shea (Lab, Acocks Green) who is also a cabinet member for Street Scenes and Parks (y including bins) as well as the main hardworking case of Jess Philips, the Labor MP for Yardley, a constituency that now includes Small Heath.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street told BirminghamLive after prayers: “It’s a hugely important day and that’s why I wanted to be here. What I’ve been reflecting on over the last month of Ramadan, it is the inclusiveness of the Muslim community.”
When asked if he could fast himself, he replied: “No, I am full of admiration for those who fast and the self-discipline that is involved. abstinence time and the whole purpose of abstinence, in many religions in fact, it’s a time when you’re supposed to think about what you really, really cherish rather than the obvious things.
“So it’s a goal in a number of religions and it makes sense to me. I hope Muslims have had the opportunity over the past month to reflect on what matters in a troubled world.”
Many people looked stylish in their original attire or colorful costumes, including a family of Ghanaians from Dudley. They hadn’t heard of the famous comedian Lenny Henry, but were all smiles regardless – their sense of joy for the occasion contagious.
An ethnic Bangladeshi family also posed for photos in their colorful attire. Near a police car, a group of Somali women, including Najma Ali, were fascinated by the possibility of sitting inside a police car in the driver’s seat. An accompanying officer said that particular car had no siren, the girls were able to turn on the flashing blue lights for an impromptu series of selfies.
After the prayers were over, the men in the crowd dispersed more quickly than the ladies, but soon families with young children from all walks of life mixed freely in the area where the Robert Wilkinson funfair offered rides and food. food at the start of a residency that will last until May 8.
Organizers said they have scaled back this year in an attempt to limit attendance to 20,000 people. In the end, they settled on 30-40 thousand.
With the Jamie Ghamkol Sharif Central Mosque also having several indoor prayer sessions (most worshipers go to one or the other but rarely inside and outside), the area was busy all day, which required drivers to park on double red lines on the Small Heath Highway as well as on the roundabouts themselves, at Poets Corner and at the junction of Golden Hillock Road and Wordsworth Road.
As befits tradition, Muslims wished each other ‘Eid Mubarak’ after prayers. Eid is a word for a festival or celebration, while mubarak means blessed. Saying ‘Eid Mubarak’ means Happy Eid, or having a blessed holiday and it seemed like everyone was doing just that.
Read more:Muslim runner raises money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital while fasting for Ramadan
Read more:What training for the Great Birmingham Run 2022 and fasting in Ramadan looks like
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