The Islamic community of Lloydminster is an important part of the overall culture in this region, proving once again what really lies at the heart of Canadians - generosity of spirit and tolerance for traditions and ways that are different from what we may be used to.
The sermon and EID prayer took place to celebrate the end of Ramadan at the Servus Sports Centre July 28.
“We were fasting all the last month, and today we are celebrating we were successful in the fasting,” Ezaz Chatta, president of the Islamic Centre of Lloydminster said.
The celebration is the reason for the special service, sermon and prayer, and it was open to the general public, as are all their services.
Chatta added, “Today, everybody is happy and everybody comes back and we are celebrating this day, and for that, Allah forgive us all that sin which we did.”
For those unfamiliar with the Islam customs, it might have seemed strange, that after the prayer was concluded, time was set aside to hug your neighbours and share the joy that was in their hearts for completing the fast.
Although the men were on one side of a set of screens and the women on the other (as Allah has taught them, for respect), everyone was in a very happy mood.
“Only when you feel happy, you hug anybody,” said Chatta. “You don’t be mad at anyone, that is why you have to hug everybody, so nobody has anything (bad) in their hearts.”
With regard to the ladies, Chatta explained that, “We cannot touch the other ladies, except our wife, and even it is forbidden for us to watch the other ladies.” This comes from, “the holy prophet 1,400 or 1,500 years ago.”
There is an old saying that says, you can’t be mad at anyone you are hugging or touching. The Roman Catholics have something similar in their services where you turn to your neighbour and shake their hand and wish them peace. A handshake or a hug, both bring about the good feeling of connecting and sharing with another human being.
The sermon and prayer were led by Imam Hafiz Noor-ul Huda (priest).
“Our attendance is more than the last couple of years, today. And all the Muslim brothers and sisters participate in this EID, our celebration here,” he said. “This is the end of our month of fasting. During the fasting time, it is voluntarily before dawn to dusk, til sunset we don’t eat anything.”
By doing this, they get to learn how to empathize with the people who do not have food. “It is self purification,” said the imam, “It is self control.” In that situation, “When a person doesn’t have food he doesn’t have that much energy, and then he can control his anger management, he can say nice things, he can feel how other people survive when they don’t have food.
“These are the important things, and as I mentioned (in his sermon), when we are finished the fasting month, every single Muslim, either old or young, even a person born today before our prayer, on behalf of that baby, parents have to pay 10 dollars.”
Stepping back for a moment, you realize that there is a large amount of money involved with this. “This is a big, huge, charitable program for all around the world to share with needy and poor people,” said the imam. The needy and hungry get new clothes and everything, said the Imam, “so there is a very special reason for this month.”
The Islamic community gathers like this twice per year. Two months and 10 days after the food celebration, by the lunar calendar, they gather again for Eid-Ul-Adha, the largest celebration of the year.
Regular services take place every Friday.