Show caption Footage showed about half the pitch at Ewood Park covered with prayer mats. Photograph: Ahmed Khalifa/PA Eid al-Fitr Blackburn Rovers become first UK football club to host Eid prayers on pitch Hundreds of people congregate at Ewood Park to mark end of holy month of Ramadan Christy Cooney Mon 2 May 2022 18.52 BST Share on Facebook
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Blackburn Rovers have become the first UK football club to host Eid prayers on their pitch.
Hundreds of people congregated at Ewood Park on Monday to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Aerial footage tweeted by the club showed about half the pitch covered with prayer mats and a sermon being delivered.
A message from the club read: “Eid Mubarak from everyone at Blackburn Rovers. This morning #Rovers became the first football club in the country to host Eid prayers on the pitch.”
🌙 Eid Mubarak from everyone at Blackburn Rovers.
This morning #Rovers became the first football club in the country to host Eid prayers on the pitch. 💙#EidMubarak 🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/Pw0LHkqjg5 — Blackburn Rovers (@Rovers) May 2, 2022
Sudan-born Ahmed Khalifa, 37, who moved to Blackburn from the United Arab Emirates about four months ago, described how happy he was to see so many people at the stadium.
“Eid for Muslims is something very special, gathering all the relatives together,” he said. “This time, for us especially, we miss our relatives so much.
“So it was a very big deal for us to have this group of people. So happy to see all these people there. The people of Blackburn, they all seem like part of a community, but for me coming new to this city … now I’m feeling like a part of the community.”
Blackburn Rovers play in the Championship, the second tier of English football. Khalifa is a Manchester City fan but said he would now also support his new home side. “I know that is the English way to do,” he said.
“Every city [has] to support their team whatever their team are doing, good or bad. I’ll support them until they make it.”
The Eid prayer is performed as part of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Ramadan month of fasting, and Eid al-Adha, another Islamic festival that falls later in the year.
On Eid al-Fitr, the prayer comes after a mandatory act of charity offered to the poor by every financially able Muslim, and is followed by a meal of sweet dishes.
The prayer is typically performed as part of a congregation in a large open area such as a field or mosque, though in recent years events have been cancelled or scaled down because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dozens of social media users congratulated Blackburn for hosting the event. “This is actually quite amazing,” said one. “Well done to all involved – pretty special for a little town called Blackburn. Hope other clubs follow where there’s a need.”
Another said: “Proud to be a Rover. Eid Mubarak.”
Eid prayers were held at sites around the country on Monday morning. In Birmingham, an estimated 30,000 people gathered at Small Heath park, whileabout 20,000 people congregated at Platt Fields park in Manchester.
Birmingham’s Edgbaston cricket ground partnered with a local mosque to host prayers on one of its training fields.