Irish Muslims celebrate two in a row for Eid at Croke Park

Several hundred gather in glorious sunshine on pitch of GAA stadium

Five hundred members of the Muslim community in Ireland celebrated Eid al-Adha with prayers in Croke Park, led by Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, for the second year in a row. Video courtesy RTE News

 

More than 300 people celebrated the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha in Croke Park on Tuesday, the second year in a row the event was staged there.

Attendees gathered to pray in the glorious sunshine on the pitch of the GAA stadium, with social-distancing measures in place.

Last year 200 Muslims celebrated the Eid festival in the stadium, due to Covid-19 restrictions preventing a large service being held in a mosque.

Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council, and organiser of the event, said the entire Muslim community was “eternally grateful” to be allowed to use the stadium again for the outdoor prayer service.

Holding the gathering in the historic GAA grounds was a “unique and special” moment, he said.

“The Irish people must give themselves full credit for choosing to keep their hearts open, when so many around the world fall prey to suspicion, hatred and scapegoating,” he said.

Hundreds of members of Ireland’s Muslim community celebrate Eid al-Adha at Croke Park, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Hundreds of members of Ireland’s Muslim community celebrate Eid al-Adha at Croke Park, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Shafqat Ayub and his son Kamil, from Smithfield. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Shafqat Ayub and his son Kamil, from Smithfield. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Man in Eid prayer at Croke Park, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Man in Eid prayer at Croke Park, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Bilal Awan (40), who works in cybersecurity, was one of the attendees, and said he had come to Croke Park for the festival “to pray in this historic and iconic place”.

Holding the prayer service in the stadium was a sign of “acceptance” of people who had come to Ireland from different parts of the world, and “a welcoming” from the GAA, he said.

Joining in

Due to Covid-19 restrictions mosques had been closed for long periods during the pandemic, meaning people had to pray at home, he pointed out.

As a result the large event in Croke Park was a welcome opportunity for the community to come together. “The festive prayers of Eid, they are to be done in congregations, together, in the mosque, common places, common grounds, where everybody can come in,” he said. “It’s not to be held at home, it’s not an individual event, it’s an accumulative event for everyone.”

Sakinah Abdul-Ibiyeye, who works for a fintech company, said the event “symbolises” the integration of the “new Irish” immigrants in the State.

“Especially with the lockdowns, this is an opportunity to see people you haven’t seen in a very long time, and be able to greet everyone again,” she said.

“This is like Muslim Christmas for us, to have families around and eat, so it’s great to have it here,” she added. “It’s great to see a lot of people here.”

Sakinah Abdul-Ibiyeye, attending the festival of Eid al-Adha in Croke Park. Photograph: Jack Power
Sakinah Abdul-Ibiyeye, attending the festival of Eid al-Adha in Croke Park. Photograph: Jack Power

GAA president Larry McCarthy told those gathered it was a “great pleasure” to welcome the Muslim community to Croke Park for the festival.

The event was attended by faith leaders from several other religions, including Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell, Rev Michael Jackson of the Church of Ireland, and Rabbi Zalman Lent of the Jewish community.

Minister of State with responsibility for sport Jack Chambers, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and a number of other politicians also attended.

In a statement President Michael D Higgins said he wanted to thank the Muslim community on the “joyful” occasion “for all they contribute to the society we share.”