COVID-19 restrictions forced mosques in Ireland to close and Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr celebrations to take place at home. Now, some lucky worshippers will celebrate Eid Al Adha at the GAA stadium in Dublin.
As Ireland moves toward "re-opening" after COVID-19 lockdown, mosques have once again opened their doors with new restrictions in line with Government Guidelines and Regulations, including the facilitation of a maximum of 50 worshippers in an indoor setting. As the next major event on the Muslim calendar approaches, Eid Al Adha, a decision was taken to celebrate this important occasion outdoors and Croke Park was chosen as the preferred setting.
The date was determined by the Muslim calendar based on an official sighting of the new moon on July 21st. Eid al Adha also called the "Festival of the Sacrifice", is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year (the other being Eid al Fitr), and considered the holier of the two.
Currently, as Ireland is in Phase Three of "re-opening" no more than 200 people are permitted to gather. However, organizers of the Eid celebrations have contacted the Taoiseach for special dispensation as Croke Park is large enough to host 500 people, with safe social distancing in place. However, organizers have warned that members of the public without tickets should not attend or travel to Croke Park.
A statement from the Islamic Centre of Ireland said “the Eid Prayer at Croke Park is a highly anticipated and historic event which will reflect the pluralism and diversity of our beautiful country Ireland. As Muslims, we are delighted to be able to express our Irish Muslim dual-identity on one of the most important days in the Islamic calendar.”
They added that there has been a “huge interest from many Muslim brothers and sisters who would like to be part of Eid at Croke Park.” Within two hours of the announcement last week “500 people registered on Eventbrite and more than 500 people also registered their interest on Facebook. ”
GAA President John Horan welcomed confirmation of the staging of the celebration in Croke Park.
“Normally Croke Park and our other stadia would be a hive of activity at this time of the year with the staging of games but we are living through a very different year," Horan said
“We are delighted to welcome members of the Muslim Community to Croke Park to mark Eid Al Adha, an important date in the Muslim calendar.
“I believe the staging of this celebration fully supports our commitment to inclusion and a GAA welcome linked to our belief that it’s ‘Where We All Belong’.
“I wish everyone involved in the occasion an enjoyable visit to Croke Park Stadium as it once again shows its suitability and versatility in welcoming visitors to the venue for a wide variety of different events.”
Speaking on behalf of the organizers, the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (IMPIC) Chairperson, Shaykh Dr. Umar Al-Qadri, added: “Many people living in Ireland who are members of the Muslim faith call Ireland 'Home'. Irish Muslims have contributed significantly in many sectors across our country, especially the health sector.
“The choice of Croke Park as a venue for Eid ul Adha celebration will be symbolic to Irish Muslims in their ‘dual-identity’ as being both Irish and Muslim and the significance that Croke Park and the GAA have in Irish history.
“The GAA is making great strides in embracing all communities nationwide. Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council is profoundly grateful to Croke Park for facilitating “Eid at Croke Park” which is a clear demonstration of the GAA’s unflinching commitment to promoting social inclusion and intercultural diversity.
“The historic Muslim celebration of Eid Al Adha at Croke Park this year will be a positive representation of Ireland’s growing diversity of many different faiths and communities."
Fake news surrounding Muslim celebration in Croke Park
In an article that was shared widely on social media, TheLiberal.ie claimed that the upcoming event at Croke Park would include a "Muslim large blood sacrifice ritual” and that the “pitch of Ireland’s largest stadium will soon be saturated in the blood of terrified animals" has been swiftly debunked.
TheLiberal.ie has since amended their article, and said they received the information "from a source within The Alliance of Former Muslims Ireland."
Responding to the claims initially published by TheLiberal, Dr. Al-Qadri told The Journal: “It is absolutely a lie and false. It has no truth."
Muslims “do consume meat, we do sacrifice animals on the day of Eid," but this would not be taking place at Croke Park, Dr. Al-Qadri said.
Dr. Al-Qadri explained that the slaughter of animals for Eid Al Adha can have a charitable element, with Muslims donating the cost of an animal that is slaughtered and then given to poorer families.
“No food and drink will be taking place in Croke Park due to social distancing. It is an event in which there will be prayers and speeches, and that’s about it.”
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