What can’t IKEA do right?

Sunday marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a period that consists of fasting, prayer, and reflection. A month that is supposed to be about community for Muslims took a different and unexpected turn this year due to coronavirus restrictions. After an unexpected and spiritually challenging month, over 700 Muslims were able to celebrate Eid al-Fitr by praying (with careful social distancing practices) in the parking lot of an Ikea store in Frankfurt, Germany.

© IGMG Wetzlar FATİH CAMİİ / Facebook

Although places of worship have reopened in Germany, they still have to follow social distancing rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This means that people have had to come up with new ways to commemorate Eid this year. Finding a place where multiple people could gather for the closing prayer while maintaining a safe distance was nearly impossible, but not for Kadir Terzi, the chairman of a Wetzlar mosque. He thought a place like a parking lot would be ideal, which is why he contacted Ikea last week.

According to Mr. Terzi, he wasn’t very hopeful he would get a positive response, “but the store manager didn’t hesitate for a second and said ‘yes, you can pray’”, he explained. Mr. Terzi told BBC News he was surprised and happy at the same time, and immediately organized Sunday’s prayer.

After getting Ikea’s approval, the mosque invited Muslims to bring their prayer mats and face masks to gather at the parking lot for mass prayer, and over 700 people showed up.

© IGMG Wetzlar FATİH CAMİİ / Facebook

Videos and pictures of this beautiful event were later posted on Twitter, where many people from all around the world got to share their thoughts about this act of kindness.

The Milli Goruş community in Wetzlar, who helped organize the event, expressed how grateful they were through a Facebook post. “We would like to thank the Wetzlar Police Department, the Wetzlar Public Order Agency, the IKEA Wetzlar administration, our brothers in charge and everyone who contributed to making this extraordinary Eid prayer possible”, they wrote.

“It was a completely different Ramadan month, without contacts, without visits and without breaking the fast together,” Mr. Terzi explained. Thanks to Ikea, hundreds of Muslims were able to come together as a community and pray on this very important day.

This world is in desperate need of unity among humans. Respecting, accepting, and embracing diversity is what matters, and stories like this prove that in the end, love and kindness will thrive above everything else.