British Muslims describe Eid festivities as ‘heavy’ due to Gaza conflict

Estimated read time 3 min read

Millions of Muslims across the UK celebrated Eid on Wednesday after the first sighting of the new crescent moon, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The Baitul Futuh mosque in London, one of the largest in Europe, welcomed more than 5,000 people to pray and celebrate the three-day festival, one of the most important holidays in the Islamic calendar.

However, British Muslims have described how this year’s festivities have been particularly “heavy” due to the devastation in Gaza, which has led to the killing of more than 32,000 and displacement of 1.9 million people, according to the UN.

In the southern city of Rafah, where more than a million people are sheltering, thousands of Muslims attended Eid prayers outside the ruins of a mosque.

Sabah Ahmedi, an imam from Manchester, said he had several conversations throughout Ramadan about the conflict in Gaza.

“The imam in the mosque today talked about praying for the people of Gaza, the innocent people that lost their lives,” he said. “Eid to me is a day of gratitude, thanking God for allowing us to fast for his sake. Also it’s a time for reflection as well, it’s a time to reflect on the current state of the world, to remember those who are less fortunate than we are.”

Unaizah Ahmad, 24, is also celebrating Eid on Wednesday and said she would often think about those without access to food, including the people in Gaza, when breaking her fast.

“Especially at iftar time, when we break our fast, when I see the table full of meals and different delicious stuff that my mum would have made, my heart would feel very heavy and go back to thinking about those people who probably would have very little to nothing to break their fast with,” she explained.

The UN estimated 300,000 people in northern Gaza are facing the threat of famine, with aid agencies pressing Israel to allow more food into the besieged strip.

Usama Mubarik, 26, and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association also expressed similar sentiments about this year’s Eid celebrations.

He said: “I would share this lovely little Eid message to my friends and family and I would forward that to them all, to wish them well … but this Eid, I think it struck me a bit more. I didn’t feel this urge to openly celebrate it as such, because of the conflicts around the world, in the Middle East and elsewhere, where our brothers and sisters are suffering.

“The celebration comes with a massive reminder of how blessed we are and how people are not as fortunate as us.”

Mubarik said his Eid celebrations began with prayers at the mosque and he would later have an annual barbecue with family, friends and neighbours.

“Eid entails a lot of festivities, a lot of joy, people wearing the nicest and freshest and cleanest clothes, there’s a lot of festive vibes at home,” he said. “To see so many worshippers from not just local places but from afar coming to the largest mosque in the UK to offer the Eid prayers, was so lovely to see, especially given the state of the world we’re in where there are people who are suffering.”

Ahmad, who also attended prayers at the Baitul Futuh mosque, added: “Eid comes as that celebration of having had that opportunity to sacrifice, having had that opportunity to increase in goodness and then Eid, we’re making a promise to continue on the good deeds we started in Ramadan.”


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