English, Scottish, Arabs, Africans and Asians came together as the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham saw its first ever open air Eid prayers take place during the occasion of Eid Ul Fitr 2013.
The Riverside Muslim Association (RMA) organised the landmark and historic event to commemorate the end of Ramadan 2013. Eid prayers and the traditional Eid sermon took place on the outdoor football pitch which was hired out for two hours for the prayers. There were stalls with henna artists, cakes, foods and even a bouncy castle for children.
“Barking and Dagenham has been often unfairly tainted but we really are a friendly bunch of people,” said a local resident. “So long as we respect and get on with each other then we won’t be divided and our communities can live alongside each other in harmony. I think it’s great the way the community has organised this event and I wish everybody a happy Eid and a good weekend.”
Councillor Cameron Geddes attended the event. He said: "The Muslim people on Riverside need a community space of their own ideally. In the meantime I am so impressed that their boundless energy produced this Eid InThe Park event and I’m grateful to the Rivergate Centre for their help as well as the police and Muslim and non-Muslim friends who attended."
Khushnood is the Secretary of the RMA and she was one of the team of tireless volunteers who organised and managed Eid in the Park: “I am glad that the event has been enjoyed by the local community. RMA has been successful in uniting Muslims from diverse backgrounds. The positive comments and congratulations we are still receiving are proof of our efforts and has given us the motivation to do better and more activities in the local area.”
This was the first Eid prayer attended by the women and some spoke about the joy of being able to participate on such a monumental occasion. One of the young people attending Eid in the Park said: "We never had such an enjoyable Eid before, we made so many new friends."
Her friend added: "I’m looking forward to next Eid."
Imam Imran said: “It has been a glorious day in terms of celebrating this day of Eid after a whole month of fasting. The weather has been brilliant and we have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback. I would like to thank Councillor Cameron Geddes who gave up time from his very busy day to attend our event and meet and greet the worshippers. His visit was very special for us indeed. We would also like to thank the Police officers who popped in and mingled with the crowds, non Muslim friends and the businesses City Realtor, mr Printers, Rayflex, Silvaspoon takeaway, Euro Foods, Gossip Textiles, Nax, Comfort wholesalers and Yunus from Leicester who provided us with the financial support to make this event a success.
“Last but not least, I would like to thank the volunteers from the bottom of my heart. They have been working day and night for the last three weeks in order to make this event a reality and I’m so proud with how this has all come together so successfully.”
The Riverside Muslim Association was formed on 20th March 2013 at the Rivergate Centre and the aims of the organisation are to help make the presence of Muslims more visible in the Barking Reach area and to celebrate the positive contributions that Muslims make in wider society.
The event was organised by the community and run by volunteers with very generous financial support from City Realtor, mr Printers, Rayflex, Silvaspoon takeaway, Euro Foods, Gossip Textiles, Nax, Comfort wholesalers and Yunus from Leicester.