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IKEA Germany opened its doors so Muslims could pray during the biggest festival of the year

On the occasion of Eid, the festival after Ramadan, IKEA Germany collaborated with local mosques to host a socially-distanced communal prayer.

IKEA Germany opened its doors so Muslims could pray during the biggest festival of the year
Image Source: AbdirahimS / Twitter

Germany, like many countries across the world, is still under a national lockdown. In the European nation, Muslims make up a large percentage of the total population. About 3.3 to 5 million Muslims currently live in Germany. Sadly, when Eid came around earlier this month, it was quite a somber affair in steep contrast to how the Muslim holiday is usually celebrated. With mosques only permitted to open if they follow social distancing guidelines, Muslims could not worship together as they usually do. Thankfully, IKEA Germany opened its doors - and its heart - so everyone could pray together (while social distancing, of course), the BBC reports.



The IKEA store in question is located near Frankfurt in West Germany. The branch allowed a local mosque to use its expansive car park so worshippers could gather and pray. Due to the large area, the Muslims present could practice all the rules of social distancing. On Sunday, a whopping 800 Muslims gathered in order to celebrate the end of Ramadan - Eid. A chairman of the local mosque said in an interview with the BBC, "The closing prayer with all Muslims in Wetzlar was like a reward for us." Over the past month, Muslims would fast from sunrise to sunset, one of the five pillars of Islam. It is said to teach compassion for the hungry and less fortunate.




IKEA Germany has been widely praised for the move. Canadian journalist Carly Agro, for instance, wrote on Twitter, "Wow. This is the love and kindness the world needs now. Eid Mubarak to all celebrating!" Pictures and videos of the Eid prayer have also gone viral across social media platforms. Many have also complimented the mosque for finding a safe way to hold its Eid prayers during the ongoing public health crisis. The decision was the brainchild of Kadir Terzi, the chairman of a Wetzlar mosque. He first approached IKEA last week with his plan. Though he initially was not hopeful he would receive a positive response, he was quite glad that the branch opened its doors to his community. He shared, "The store manager didn't hesitate for a second and said, 'Yes, you can pray.' I was surprised and happy at the same time."



Terzi organized the Eid prayer in collaboration with the Ditib Wetzlar mosque. On the day of the prayer, worshippers were encouraged to bring their own prayer mats and face masks to the IKEA car park. However, following the guidelines set by the German government, children under the age of 12 were not allowed to enter and everyone had to ensure they were at a safe distance from each other. Though the prayer went off to a shaky start with some crowding at the entrance, hundreds of worshippers soon got into the groove of things after being aided by stewards. A video displays hundreds of prayer mats laid out in the parking lot several feet apart.



The prayer, Terzi explained, was especially important as Ramadan, which is usually a time for family and community, was incredibly lonely for many Muslim families this year. Due to government-mandated restrictions, several traditions such as large community meals and charity drives were put on hold. He stated, "It was a completely different Ramadan month, without contacts, without visits and without breaking the fast together." Therefore, the communal prayer on the day of Eid was very valuable to him and his community. At a time when our communities seem more fragmented and isolated than ever before, this is exactly the kind of solidarity we need.



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