Muslims across Nova Scotia gather for Eid al-Adha for the first time in two years

·3 min read
Mohamed Elsaraiti is so busy at work that he says when the holiday is over he will go 'straight to bed.' (Nicola Seguin/CBC - image credit)
Mohamed Elsaraiti is so busy at work that he says when the holiday is over he will go 'straight to bed.' (Nicola Seguin/CBC - image credit)

Inside a tiny halal meat shop in Halifax, Mohamed Elsaraiti has been serving close to 150 customers a day.

Eid al-Adha kicked off on Friday, leading to one of the busiest weekends of the year for halal merchants.

"Yesterday, me and the owner were up since 5 a.m. to go and get prepared for the day," Elsaraiti said. "And we've been running last night till 1:00 at night."

A constant stream of people has been flowing through the open door of Al Hilal Meat Shop and Middle Eastern Cuisine, many of them grabbing multiple grocery bags full of sliced meat to prepare for family festivities.

Eid al-Adha is one of the two main Muslim holidays, which celebrates the end of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, as well as the Prophet Ibrahim, who had a dream that Allah commanded him to sacrifice his son.

The holiday is celebrated with large social gatherings, communal prayers and by sacrificing an animal and sharing the meat with family, friends and community members.

Nicola Seguin/CBC
Nicola Seguin/CBC

Abdullah Yousri, imam of the Ummah Masjid Mosque in Halifax, said giving to charity is also a significant part of Eid al-Adha.

"We share food and share meat [and gifts] with family, with friends … and also for the less fortunate in the community we will give away lots of charity during these days."

Yousri said families often choose their own charity to donate to, and it can be local or across the world.

Inflation taking a toll

Elsaraiti said the shop where he works has seen many of its customers impacted by inflation, which has reached the highest point since the 1980s.

"Whoever used to come buy a whole lamb, now they're buying half the lamb, a couple of pounds and all that. So sales did go down," he said.

Nicola Seguin/CBC
Nicola Seguin/CBC

Elsaraiti said this sparked the store's owner to work with his supplier, Oulton's Meats in the Annapolis Valley, to lower prices ahead of Eid. The shop changed the price of lamb from $11 per pound to $9.50.

"[The owner] said, 'I'm going to help the people, too.' … They changed the price, and now people are back on it."

Celebrations around the province

This year, the Ummah Mosque held an outdoor Eid prayer for the first time since the pandemic began. Yousri said thousands of people from all over came to the mosque throughout the day.

"The field was packed with the sisters and brothers and kids coming together to celebrate."

Submitted by the Ummah Masjid Mosque
Submitted by the Ummah Masjid Mosque

Yousri said after the prayer, people shared a meal while kids played on bouncy castles, met first responders and visited with farm animals. The community also celebrated with a harbour cruise and a camping trip in Cape Breton later in the weekend.

"It is different [this year] because we are able to get together and connect," he said. "For us, this is the moment when we get together and eat together and share and visit.… All of these things were not possible during the pandemic.

"People have been longing for this for two years now."

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