Sunday, May 24, marked Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the month-long season of fasting has been an unusual experience for Muslims around the world. While families and communities typically gather to break their daily fasts, social distancing has placed restrictions on such activities. Eid is conventionally celebrated over two to three days, when friends and family visit one another’s houses, exchange gifts, and indulge in feasts, but many had to settle for virtual get-togethers this year.
One mosque in Germany, however, still wanted to get the community together for the special occasion, while keeping everyone safe.
The parking lot of one of their stores in Wetzler, West Germany became an unlikely place of worship when it was transformed into an outdoor prayer area, BBC News reported. Mass social distancing measures were put in place, with around 800 worshippers spread out across the massive space.
It was a sight to behold.
Clad in face masks, devotees brought their own prayer rugs and were positioned at a safe distance from one another, while an imam led the session standing on a makeshift platform.
Many people took to social media to praise the furniture store for providing a space for the celebration.
Of course, some did not miss the chance for some good ol’ IKEA-teasing.
A mosque chairman told BBC that they were looking for a space for Muslims to pray together, while still observing social distancing. So, he reached out to IKEA but wasn’t expecting to get a positive response.
“The store manager didn’t hesitate for a second and said 'yes, you can pray.' I was surprised and happy at the same time," he recounted.
Mosques were reopened for public prayers in Germany on May 9 but people still have to abide by strict social distancing measures, such as wearing masks, sitting 1.5 metres apart, and refraining from physical contact.
For the hundreds of people gathered in the IKEA parking lot last weekend, the innovative Eid celebration provided some sense of normalcy during these extraordinary times.