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Muslims celebrate feast of Eid

Festival comes at the end of hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca faithful asked to make at least once

By Harvey Shepherd, Montreal Gazette, February 22 2002 CE


As Muslims around the world celebrate one of the two major festivals of their faith today and tomorrow, the day will have special significance for a few Montrealers who have embraced the religion only recently.

"It is great to have Eid parties," said Melina Jaramillo Garcia, a 20-year-old student in her first year of biochemistry at Concordia University, who converted to Islam in December 2000.

She was planning to join her fellow Muslim students at the university in prayers this morning marking the feast of Eid al-Adha. She also plans to attend an Eid festival organized by the Muslim Student Association from 2:30 p.m. tomorrow.

The prayers marking Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice, will bond Muslims around the world with those who are celebrating the day today in Saudi Arabia at the end of the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca enjoined at least once on every Muslim who is able.

A Montreal travel agent serving Muslim pilgrims said more than 200 people arranged their hajj tours through his agency.

"It was practically the same as last year," said Tarek Amro, vice-president of Amro Travel of Pierrefonds.

Ten or so appeared to be converts to the faith, mostly from Christianity.

His brother, Mohamed Amro, president of the travel agency, and an employee, are in Saudi Arabia, each escorting a party of more than 100 pilgrims who booked through the firm.

Garcia regards her conversion to Islam as a work in progress.

Influences that led to her conversion included the comportment of Muslim women among her friends at Vanier College in St. Laurent, where she was studying at the time. In addition, she is deeply interested in science and said she was impressed by the uncanny way recent scientific discoveries were anticipated by passages in the Koran.

Garcia, who immigrated to Canada from Panama with her family, said her conversion caused tension with her relatives at first, but they have since become more accepting.

Eid al-Adha came and went a few months after she embraced Islam, but she was concentrating on other aspects of her new faith and scarcely noticed the festival.

For all practical purposes, today and tomorrow will be her first Eid celebration, she said.

As sometimes happens, different Montreal Muslims are marking Eid al-Adha on different days, for reasons arising from the Muslim calendar.

Like Muslims in Saudi Arabia, some are marking the feast today. They include the Muslim Community of Quebec mosque in Notre Dame de Grāce and the Muslim student associations of McGill and Concordia universities.

Groups marking the feast tomorrow include the Islamic Centre of Quebec at 2520 Laval Rd. in St. Laurent, where two shifts of prayers have been scheduled for 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

South Shore Muslims are to gather at the Paladium at 9525 Taschereau Blvd. in Brossard at 8 a.m.

The Muslim Student Association at Concordia said its festival is scheduled for tomorrow.

All Muslims are invited.

Source: http://www.canada.com/search/site/story.asp?id=4B1DDAE1-D850-4377-A775-0C6DA5EC0E88

© Copyright 2002 Montreal Gazette


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