St. John’s Muslims celebrate Eid in crowded mosque, say more facilities needed

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Muslims in the St. John’s area joined with others around the world in celebrating Eid Friday — the festival that marks the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Eid is the holiday when Muslims end 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting central to Ramadan, considered one of the ‘five pillars’ of Islam.

For eastern Newfoundland’s thriving and diverse local Islamic community, the celebrations taking place at a mosque in the east end of St. John’s are also a reminder of how large the community as grown over the years.

“We have too many people so we have to have two prayers, and both are jam packed,” said Dr. Mansoor Pirzada, president of the province’s Muslim Association.

“I think we are reaching a point where we need to have a newer building.”

Pirzada said it’s been amazing to see how much the Islamic community in Newfoundland has grown since the east end mosque was first built by the first local Muslims in the mid 1980s.

“At that time there were only 12 or 15 families,” he said.

“They were actually visionaries, and knew at that time that there would be more Muslims coming.”

He said the association has already been in talks with the City of St. John’s regarding building a bigger building as well as a community centre.

“We do have a piece of land on Sugarloaf Road,” he said.

“After 27 or 28 years this mosque is not enough.”

Many St. John’s Muslims marked Eid by gathering at the mosque for prayers before getting together in the basement for food and refreshments. They then return to their homes where children receive gifts similar to Christmas for Christians.

After a full month of not eating during the daylight hours, one of the most exciting aspects of Eid for many is the food. However, Pirzada said the four weeks of fasting isn’t as difficult as many non-Muslims might think.

“The body adapts,” he said.

“It’s the same as when people from warm climates come to Newfoundland and then get used to the cold. You adapt.”

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