PATERSON, NJ - Thousands of members of New Jersey’s Muslim community are expected to gather for a “unified prayer” at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Doors will open at 7:00 a.m. with prayers beginning at 9:00 a.m.

More than a dozen of the event’s organizers gathered at the Islamic Center of Passaic County on Friday to share details about the event, stressing that while the day, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, or Eid al-Adha, is one of the holiest on the calendar for followers of the teaching of Islam, the event is open to everyone.

“We very much look forward to having a successful event where thousands of people from all walks of life can celebrate EID together in a spirit of unity and love on this most spiritual of days,” event spokesperson Hasan Abdallah said.

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For Muslims Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingess of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his only son to show his loyalty to God. According to the Quran God halted the death of Ibrahim’s son by replacing him with a lamb to be sacrificed instead. 

More than 400,000 Muslims in New Jersey, and approximately 1.9 billion across the globe, are expected to celebrate the day that one ICPC member told TAPinto Paterson is marked with not just the traditional prayers but also family time, gift giving, and service to others.

“Unity is a theme everyone agrees on” Omar Awad, ICPC’s president said speaking of the years long effort to bring so many together under one roof. Because the holiday is held based on the lunar calendar the date changes each year. This year’s August celebrations meant that neither the Giants or Jets would be using their home stadium, making it available for the religious gathering, one, organizers said, the owners of both NFL teams endorsed. 

“We are Muslim Americans and we are here to celebrate in a communal fashion,” Awad added, concluding that the their hope is the event will “plant the seeds of unity.” 

Several speakers, including Salaheddin Mustafa spoke to security precautions being taken to make sure the anticipated large crowd is safe. Lamenting the fact that “direct attacks are as high as they’ve ever been” when it comes to the Muslm community, including rhetoric from “our country’s leadership,” when it comes to joining together in prayer and unity, exercising their rights as Americans, “we are not going to be afraid.”

With the support and federal law enforcement agencies, the use of metal detectors as is standard for any event at the stadium, more than 75 security guards, as well as volunteers helping to direct attendees, including many that work in law enforcement, there will be “Super Bowl level security,” making it the “most secure place to pray” on Sunday.

“We want to show our neighbors that we are a part of this nation by showing our unity with all faiths,” Imam Dr. Mohammad Qatanan said reiterating the invitation is there for anyone to celebrate with them. “We are one nation, regardless of faith, nationality, or background. We are one humanity.”

In addition to the prayers Sunday’s event will also feature inflatable rides, video games, and food as part of the celebration.

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