'Unity is very important': Waterloo Region's Muslim community celebrates Eid al-Adha

Muslims around the world are observing a major Islamic holiday on Tuesday: Eid al-Adha, a feast of sacrifice.

In Waterloo Region, the Muslim community is gathering for prayers to mark the holiday.

For many, this year's Eid is especially important given the recent acts of terror and hate some members of the Muslim community have experienced.

Fauzia Mazhar, the executive director of the Coalition of Muslim Women Kitchener-Waterloo, celebrated together on Tuesday for the first time since the pandemic began.

"It's amazing, I can't tell you how happy I am," she said.

Eid al-Adha is known as feast of sacrifice.

"Feast of sacrifice is the admiration of what prophet Abraham did," Mazhar explained.

It's usually celebrated with a communal morning prayer and large social gatherings.

But with COVID-19 restrictions in place, mosques like the Hespeler Masjid had to have multiple prayer times to accommodate all of its members.

"We did the registration just to make sure that if there is any outbreak we can reach out to people, and we still did the temperature and masks," said Waqas Bhutta, Hespeler Masjid's president.

Imam Arbaaz Kasmani at the Townline Muslim Centre says it was great to celebrate Eid as a community again, even with restrictions in place.

"It's not only the day of Eid that's important, every day is a day of peace for Muslims," Kasmani said.

Kasmani said this year more than ever, it's important for the Muslim community to honour the holiday.

"Unity is very important," he said.

This year, Eid al-Adha comes one month after a deadly attack in London, Ont. that killed four members of a Muslim family.

"When there is happiness we stay together, when there is grief we stay together," Bhutta said.

For Mazhar, celebrating Eid with family again has helped her overcome the fear she has been holding onto since the attack, adding it's allowing the community to heal together.

"But I also know that there are members of our own community here who are celebrating Eid with fears, unfortunately," she said. "But what we say is the Eid must go on."