Central Ohio Muslim Community Celebrates Return Of Eid Al-Adha Prayer Gathering
Thousands from the Central Ohio Muslim community gathered downtown Tuesday morning for their annual Eid Al-Adha prayer.
Muslims from all across Central Ohio packed into an 82,000 square-foot exhibit hall at the Greater Columbus Convention Center to perform a prayer for Eid Al-Adha, or the Islamic festival of sacrifice. It commemorates the religion's prophet Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son, who was eventually replaced with a ram, to Allah, or God.
This Eid, the second of the year, happens right after the completion of hajj, one of Islam's five pillars and the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia Muslims are expected to make at least once in their lifetime. This year's hajj was limited to vaccinated pilgrims in that country.
Last year's Eid Al-Adha celebration was socially distanced, with people performing the prayer in the Noor Islamic Cultural Center's parking lot in Dublin.
Imran Malik, the interfaith and media relations director of the cultural center, said having the prayer in the convention center this year will hopefully fulfill the essence of Eid — family and the community truly being together.
"You really cannot substitute the emotions and the gratitude and the fulfillment when people are able to physically meet, hug each other, greet each other," Malik said.
And this is something Mostafa Elshaarawy of Dublin said was exciting about this year's prayer and celebration.
"The feeling of Eid is togetherness. You have to have a lot of people to have that excitement," Elshaarawy said. "Most of us have most of the family back home, wherever you're coming from, so seeing friends almost like family, is something that's really precious."
The event started with a prayer, which led into a sermon that Malik said is a reminder to the community about their responsibilities and obligations as Muslims and responsible citizens.
Azhar Masood, the executive director of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center — also known as the Noor Mosque, said the Muslim community is growing in Central Ohio and so the cultural center was too small to hold the prayer this year. But he said even the convention center may not have been large enough.
"We had to find a centralized place where most people of the Central Ohio community could join the prayers," Masood said. "We only planned for one prayer, but it seems like we will having a second prayer also to accommodate for people who were not able to join the first prayer for the space issue."
Malik said an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people attended Tuesday's Eid prayer. Columbus Public Health also set up a vaccination clinic at the event, which included its recently announced $100 Vax Cash program.