Monday, January 22, 2018

‘Please pray for Gaza’

 Amid the festivity and conviviality synonymous with Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations, Imam Imtiaz Ali at Real Street Masjid, Real Street, San Juan appealed to the 300  Muslims gathered there yesterday to pray for the people of Gaza, the Palestinian region on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. 

An AP report yesterday said: “Israel unleashed its heaviest bombardment in a three-week-old war against Hamas, striking symbols of the militant group’s control in Gaza and firing tank shells that Palestinian officials said shut down the strip’s only power plant.” 

A BBC report added: “People were forced from their homes out into a city with few places to hide.” 

Asked to share an excerpt from his Eid sermon, Ali, who is also a prison chaplain for Muslims, said: “We started  at 10 a.m. We thanked Allah for a beautiful and scenic day. It was about the message of love and togetherness. We said  prayers for Muslims in Gaza. The situation is getting worse. We are concerned about our Muslim brothers and sisters. We will keep praying for them.”  

Turning his attention to incarcerated Muslims, Ali said: “For Eid, they  got their special needs. They got food, they did their prayers, but nobody got the keys to their cells.” 

After the morning prayers at Real Street, the faithful gathered to celebrate Eid  by forging deeper friendship bonds and enjoying victuals like saheena garnished with a dollop of  mango sauce, roti, pies and sawine (a traditional drink).

In the background, the children played with their toys. 

Pausing from sharing watermelon slices, Masood Ali said: “I prepared the pies and the silky  paratha. We have a lot of family and friends. We are having a happy celebration.” 

As Imam Ali went to collect his Express newspaper, he made his way past a group of young men who had come for charity.

“For the past five years, I have not been giving money. I give them food and drink. I am not encouraging young men who can work to get easy money. Some of them don’t even come to the mosque,” said Ali. 

Having flown from Dubai (in the United Arab Emirates), Sultana Lowkaren, whose eyes were most  visible under a black hijab, said: “We have family here so we chose to worship here. We are enjoying the Eid celebration.”