Reprinted in part from L.A. Times
(Photo Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)
As the sun burned in the soft blue sky, thousands of Muslims poured into Angel Stadium early Friday and filled the morning with the sounds of prayer as they celebrated Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, the most important holiday of the Islamic calendar.
“Eid Mubarak,” men and women said in greeting, wishing blessings for the day. Youngsters skipped school, elders from across Southern California glowed with the spirit of the season – in culmination of the annual pilgrimage, called Hajj, a tribute to Prophet Abraham’s life and legacy.
More than 20,000 Muslims gathered at the baseball stadium in a historic event organized by leaders of three mosques – the Islamic Center of Irvine, the Islamic Institute of Orange County in Anaheim and the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove. The three mosques are members of the Islamic Shura Council.
“It brings a different flavor when you’re outdoors in the cool breeze and bright sunshine,” said Shakeel Syed, who heads the Islamic Shura Council.
“In past years,” he said, “people went to individual mosques, but this year — luckily or unluckily — the Angels are not in the playoffs, so the stadium was available.”
Rather than sit in the stands or the bleachers, worshippers walked on the stadium grass, fanning across the baseball diamond.
“The excitement of being in a place that’s generally not accessible to most of us is amazing,” Syed added. “Here, you’re able to see the entire crowd, unlike at a mosque. It lifts up the spirit.”
The words “Eid Ul-Adha” glowed in neon under the Toyota and Metro PCS logos on the Jumbotron screen. It rotated with other Arabic terms, ads touting Quran and Saturday school, and a flashing “Vote on 11/6.” Melodic chants rang in the air.