ABU DHABI // Tens of thousands of Muslims attended Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the capital early on Wednesday to offer Eid Al Fitr prayers.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, along with other sheikhs and ministers, offered prayers and visited the tomb of the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed.
They were joined by about 40,000 worshippers – and countless more across the UAE and the Muslim world – who defied early morning heat and humidity to mark the end of Ramadan with prayer.
Others sheikhs who offered prayers include Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser and Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
In Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, offered Eid prayers at Zabeel Mosque. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, offered prayer along with father and other senior figures.
Unlike years past, thousands of worshippers were denied entry to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque because mobile phones were not allowed. Those who drove were able to return to their cars to leave their phones, but others were left to pray on the streets and parks surrounding the mosque.
Yousuf Suleiman, a Nigerian who visited the mosque for the first time, was one of those who prayed outside. “I have never seen such a huge gathering of people performing prayers in unison,” he said.
“I have heard about the beauty of this Grand Mosque and today I have seen it. Truly it’s the most amazing place.
“I didn’t know that I had to get here so early for security reasons. In the meantime, prayers started so I prayed outside. Only later did I get in.”
Beginning at about 4am, the devout started arriving at the mosque, with Eid prayers being offered at 6.15am.
At 5.30am, all roads leading to the mosque were chockablock, while Abu Dhabi Police were deployed all around the mosque.
“I queued to enter but couldn’t make it as I had my phone,” said Abdul Mateen, a Bangladeshi from Musaffah. “There was nowhere I could leave it.”
It would have been easier if authorities had announced earlier that no phones were allowed, he said.
After prayers, the festive mood was evident all around the mosque as people were greeting each other, and children dressed in colourful dresses were photographed by their parents.
Many travelled from Dubai, including Mohammed Isa. “I started at 3.30am to catch prayers and I got here at 5am and prayed peacefully,” he said.
Offering prayers at Zayed Mosque always feels wonderful — that’s why I spent so much time driving here, he said.
“I was stuck in traffic, but I got in soon enough,” the 17-year-old Palestinian said.
One man who has lived in Al Ain for eight years decided to make the drive to Abu Dhabi for Eid prayers at the Grand Mosque.
“I regret not coming here before. This is a wonderful place,” said Abdul Razzaque, who is from Indonesia.
“I appreciate the security arrangement in and around the mosque, and people must know the timings. But if they waited until the last minute, then, of course, they would be late getting into the mosque because of the security. Obviously, though, it’s for our own safety,” said Mr Razzaque who left Al Ain at 3.30 in the morning.
To ensure the safety of worshippers, a number of checkpoints and metal detectors were erected that everyone had to pass through.
Jameel, a Syrian who gave only his first name, said he was please to come to this mosque to pray. “I love the beauty of this mosque, so most of time I pray here for Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha.”
This year, tea stalls, water and meal packets were also distributed after prayers.
Source: uae news