Turkey celebrates Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha
ANKARA / ISTANBUL
In the historic metropolis of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, which last week reopened for worship after an 86-year gap, witnessed the first Eid prayers, also known as Salat al-Eid, for the feast of the sacrifice holiday.
Thousands of people joined the prayers lead by Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Presidency (Diyanet) at the iconic building.
Local officials handed out free disposable prayer rugs, disinfectants, masks and water to people heading to prayers.
Giant screens helped the faithful in the back rows feel more connected to the occasion.
Officials in the city’s Fatih district handed out silver-plated commemorative medallions for the Muslim holiday for those who came to Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque.
In the Turkish capital Ankara, prayers were performed in accordance with social distance and hygiene rules.
Disinfectants were placed at mosque entrances, and those who came to mosques wore masks and brought prayer rugs with them.
In a phone call, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan exchanged holiday greetings with soldiers deployed in the southeastern province of Şırnak.
Most majority-Muslim countries around the world, including Turkey, will observe the four-day holiday starting on July 31.
Muslims across Asia also marked the Eid with precautions.
In Indonesia, worshippers were advised to maintain social distancing during the prayers as the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country struggles to contain the spread of the virus.
Indonesia’s religious ministry also asked mosques to shorten ceremonies this year, while many mosques canceled the ritual of slaughtering livestock and distributing meat to the community.
Instead the donated sheep, goats and cows will be killed in abattoirs.
Elsewhere in Asia, Muslims including in Thailand and Malaysia prayed in or outside mosques wearing masks.
In India, where Eid will be celebrated mostly from Aug. 1, several states have eased coronavirus restrictions to allow worshippers to gather in mosques in limited numbers.
Health experts have been concerned about the risks of the coronavirus being spread during such religious festivals, when Muslims typically gather in mosques and homes, or travel to their hometowns.
Eid al-Adha marks the willingness of the Prophet İbrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son İsmail at the command of God, before the last-minute divine substitute of a ram.