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Area Muslims gather in unified prayer for Eid al-Adha

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    Abdur' Rahman gets roughed up by his nephew Jamere Neito, 4, as they play around while waiting for prayers to start as area mosques celebrate Eid Al-Adha at the SeaGate Convention Centre on Friday.

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    Omar Aboelzhab, 3, finds a spot to himself as he prays as area mosques celebrate Eid Al-Adha at the SeaGate Convention Centre.

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    Imam Shamsuddin Waheed speaks as area mosques celebrate Eid Al-Adha.

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    A man holds a masbaha as he prays with others as area mosques celebrate Eid Al-Adha at the SeaGate Convention Centre on Friday.

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    Imam Farooq Aboelzhab leads prayer as area mosques celebrate Eid Al-Adha.

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    Imam Farooq Aboelzhab, right, gets a hug as area mosques celebrate Eid Al-Adha.

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    Men, women, and children pray as area mosques celebrate Eid Al-Adha.

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    Imam Farooq Aboelzhab, right, leads prayer as area mosques celebrate Eid Al-Adha at the SeaGate Convention Centre.

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Hundreds of families gathered in the SeaGate Convention Centre on Friday in unified prayers for Eid al-Adha, the second of two holidays celebrated annually by Muslims around the world.

Eid al-Adha, also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice, recalls Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God, who in turn sent an angel to place a ram in Ismail’s stead. It also commemorates the hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

“The willingness to sacrifice to the will of God,” Imam Shamsuddin Waheed told worshipers, who stood and knelt inside the SeaGate Centre, during a brief sermon. “This is why we are here today.”

Prayers, in Arabic, initially lent a reverential atmosphere to the convention center at 10 a.m. These were led by Imam Farooq Aboelzahab, of the Islamic Society of Northwest Ohio, followed by Imam Waheed, of Toledo Masjid  Al Islam, with a sermon. The morning continued into food, fellowship and fun, with families chatting around tables, snapping selfies, and drifting toward the bounce houses and face-painting stations set up for children.

Mohammad Taled and Shareefa Almasri, who waited in line at a bounce house with their 3- and 5-year-old daughters, said prayerfulness and playfulness are both a part of the day. The couple, who is from Sylvania, said they planned to continue their afternoon with family.

Aheed Siddiqi, who stood near another inflatable attraction, likened the day to Christmas for his four children, who were waiting their turn in line. The family lives in Chicago and is visiting family in Toledo for a long weekend.

The unified prayer, which is this year in its seventh year, is organized in collaboration with several area mosques and community centers. These include the Islamic Society of Northwest Ohio, United Muslim Association of Toledo, Toledo Masjid Al Islam, Masjid Saad Foundation, Al-Madinah Community Center, Toledo Muslim Community Center and University of Toledo Muslim Students Association. A unified prayer is also organized for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan. It similarly encompasses prayers, followed by activities for children.

At the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg, Imam Talal Eid held prayers separately. A similar brunch and celebration followed.

Dr. S. Zaheer Hasan, of the United Muslim Association of Toledo, said participants on Friday would particularly keep in mind the victims of intense flooding in Houston as they celebrated Eid al-Adha locally. Plans to collaborate on donations and aid are in the works.

A mind for others is itself a part of Eid al-Adha, which is associated with a practice of donating the meat of slaughtered animals. Mr. Taled said his family would fulfill this practice by donating money to an overseas relief agency. Another Sylvania couple, Eslam Youssef and Reham Elsheikh, said they would arrange a donation through their mosque.

Contact Nicki Gorny at ngorny@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.

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