With approximately 5% of Leeds’ population being Muslim, the celebration of Eid is a huge occasion in the city. This religious holiday marks the end of the month long fasting of Ramadan, and this year falls around the 12th and 13th May.
As families feast, we pay respects with a look at the influence that the Islamic community has on Leeds’ high streets. Here are some of the great places that offer traditional fare, from venues and food to clothes and decorations, to help celebrate Eid and to use thereafter.
In the mid 20th century a significant number of Muslims arrived in the UK, in particular from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. By the 1970s South Asian cuisine was being embraced by British culture, and through the years has moved from western adaptations to more traditional servings.
Now in Leeds you can fine dine on Kashmiri delicacies at plush successes such as Mumtaz or find authentic value in masalas and samosas at the likes of Tasty’s Karahi and Anand Sweets. All provide a spice masterclass for adoring eaters of both Islamic and non-Muslim descent.
As well as eating out, there are specialist stores selling halal ingredients to take home. Halal means that the food is permissible in Islamic law, and in suburbs all over Leeds there are Muslim supermarkets stocking certified meats and groceries alongside other tasty delights.
Perhaps the two most famous are Abu Bakr and CC Continental due to each having three branches across the city plus an online delivery service, popular with everyone from local students to Islamic families. Also in an area in which ages and ethnicities mix harmoniously is specialist Burley butchers Mahmood Halal, a family run shop offering quality meat at reasonable prices.
Elsewhere, Freshways at Lincoln Green and Kashmir on Dewsbury Road are further examples of halal supermarkets providing magnificently for their communities, with herbs and spices, meat and fish, fruit and vegetables, and everything you’ll need for Eid and beyond.
Clothes & Decorations
A Muslim celebration is a beauty to behold, from lengthy weddings to lavish parties, there is often no expense spared. So it is only right that Eid can be feasted upon in style, and Leeds has a selection of places to dress up your person and your decor.
If you’re going big go to Cherry Venue Dressers, experienced venue stylists who have glitzed up everything from arenas to private events and always make a great impact. To dress yourself as well as the surroundings, head to Beeston where Mariam Fashion has a stunning range of clothing which is both traditional and modern.
You’ll want to smell good too, and the unique fragrance shop Scent Salim will sort you out with Arabian perfumes and Oud. It’s pure, natural and beautiful. And to pick up a present, there are a variety of treasures at the lovely little store Madina Gifts.
Of course, the hub for practising Muslims at all times, and especially for Eid, is the place of worship, the mosque. As with everything, this year is a little different due to restrictions, but mosques across Leeds are open for individual and communal prayer within guidelines.
The are over twenty mosques in Leeds, many in striking buildings and all with specific significant features, perhaps most visually distinctive of which are its dome and minaret towers. The largest in the city is Leeds Grand Mosque in Hyde Park, which at the best of times can congregate 1200 worshippers.
Other notable mosques, or masjids as they are called in Arabic, are also in areas of Leeds with large Islamic populations. Bilal Masjid has been in Harehills for decades, and relatively new to the south of the city is Masjid Ibraheem. Wherever you are, there is a place to celebrate in Leeds. Eid Mubarak.
Images: Mumtaz, Scent Salim, Kashmir Supermarket, Leeds Grand Mosque