Muslims Celebrated the Super Eid at US Bank Football Stadium (Video)
On a beautiful, chilly August morning, thousands of Muslims here in Minnesota headed to, of all places, the US Bank football stadium. There they gathered in the tens of thousands to celebrate what was coined as “Super” Eid. The Eid al Adha (feast of sacrifice) commemorates the story of Abraham and his son Ishmael (let us not get picky on which son), who was to be sacrificed until God replaced him with a sheep. On this celebratory day, thousands of Muslims descended from everywhere by cars, buses, light rail, even on foot, dressed in their colorful cloths unapologetically celebrating their traditions and costumes.
At the “Super” Eid, there wasn’t any tailgating, eating or drinking in front of the stadium. Surprisingly, standing by the stadium gates, a few groups calling themselves Muslims’ Neighbors, greeted everyone with love signs. There wasn’t a Muslim ban in the US Bank Stadium that morning.
One of the “Love your Neighbor” supporters commented, “I brought all my family here (6 of them) with Love Signs, to welcome Muslims and respond to some hates messages that I have seen on social media.”
The security at the stadium was courteous and friendly. “I’m here to make sure everything is going smooth for everyone,” explained the over-enthusiastic young man with the US Bank security badge. The police surrounding the stadium were discrete just watching from afar not looking for any trouble. Also, many organizers and staff were on hand, mostly from the Somali community.
The morning started with people going in an orderly fashion through the security gates without any major incidents. Muslims take their shoes off for prayers anyway, so there wasn’t any need to ask. The staff greeted everyone with “Happy Eid” or “Eid Mubarak. Inside the football stadium, instead of heading to the stands, people headed to the field! At the tunnel, you could see Muslim women cloaked in their colorful clothes, poised to enter the field undeterred by the posters of scantily dress cheerleaders on the tunnel walls.
At the “Super” Eid, unlike the Super Bowl, Muslims were on the field not to play but to pray. There they “took a knee,” okay, two knees, to submit to almighty God, not to the almighty NFL owners. On the field, women with their colorful uniforms were seated on one side and men with their white uniforms on the other., segregated on the field but no cheerleading. Also on hand was U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, the DFL candidate for governor. When I asked about his reaction, he pointed to the field and said: “These are the Muslims who make Minnesota great.” The stadium stands were almost empty, with a few onlookers sitting intrigued by the whole spectacle.
It was very eerie inside the US Bank stadium, no big screens, no advertisements or announcements. There wasn’t any consumption going on at the stadium, no beer, hot dogs or peanuts interrupted the festivity. The concessions stands were dark and abandoned. The majority of those people who came to US Bank stadium were seeing the stadium for the firm time, impressed by the epic place. When the chanting of “Allahu Akbar” started to fill the stadium, there was not alarm or heightened security.
The Imam finally took the stand in the front of the massive crowd, and as the quarterback of the hometown team, announced the start of the prayer. First, “Everyone should stand straight in unison and in lines,” he ordered the crowd. After the prayer, the Imam tried to keep the crowd from leaving the stadium and listen to his sermon. I always feel sorry for the person who gives the Eid sermon. Unlike the Friday sermon, it is given after prayer, and nothing disburses a Muslim crowd like an Eid sermon. Most people were heading to the exits.
“Being proud, and a good Muslim, is being a good American,” the Imam assured everyone. However, his wise words vibrated in vain, lost on the crowd who were consumed in greetings with lots of hugging and kissing. Depending on custom, some were given from the left side to the right side of the face, others from right. Some gave one kiss, while others two or three. Some gave them on cheeks, and others on the forehead, all a bit confusing for a novice to the greeting.
Overheard were people speaking in many native languages, but the warm smiles and love was universally understood. Parents held on to their kids making sure they wouldn’t get lost or venture into the uncharted territories inside the stadium.
This is the first time Muslims used the big football stadium for the Eid prayer, and it didn’t go without some critics. Some complained, “It is a costly exhibition.” However, most were thrilled to be there. In fact, people come from all over the country to be part of the “Super” Eid spectacle. 300 families came from Chicago alone, said one organizer. “I came all the way from Oklahoma with my kids to be here,” explained one mother with a big smile. “We old generation may think it is a waste of money ($120,000), but our youth here are watching sports and always on social media. Now when they go back to schools, they have something to talk about with their friends.” The director of al Farooq mosque explained.
Remembering the purpose of the day, I asked a couple of young kids what they knew about the Eid al Adha, only to get some giggling. When their father interjected and told them about the story of Abraham and his son, “The angel Gabriel asked Abraham to slay his own son to show his absolute obedience to God, but he…” Before he could finish, the kids went back to their smart phones wanting no part of this disturbing conversation.
The “Super” Eid was a great success after all. These thousands of Muslims were in dire need of reassurance from each other and the community that even with all the Islamophobia, and hateful venomous rhetoric in this country nowadays, there is still something worth celebrating even inside a football stadium. Hopefully, this “Super” Eid spirit will linger in the US Bank stadium and help the Vikings in their games this season. Happy Eid everyone.
Host/Producer of Arab American Tv show/ BelAhdan
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