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After fasting, feasting and fun with family

November 08, 2005|by HIRA ZEB

More than 6 million Muslims make their home in the U.S., representing one of the fastest growing religions in the nation.

Muslims across the country celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr last week. Eid-ul-Fitr is a three-day festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting, praying and listening to the Quran, one of the Muslim holy books.

The sighting of the new moon heralds the arrival of Eid-ul-Fitr. On Wednesday night, Nov. 2, my friends and I anxiously awaited a report. Would Eid be the next day? At approximately 11 p.m., word arrived and excitement filled the air. Yes, Eid was the next day!

I called my friend and we talked about what clothes we were going to wear, and what our plans were for the next day. On Thursday morning, my family drove to the mosque at 9 o'clock.

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Prayers end the holy month

On Eid-ul-Fitr, hundreds of faithful Muslims are drawn to morning prayers, more people than can fit into the mosque. Thus, prayers often must be held in special halls to accommodate large groups of people. After Eid prayer, the imam in charge of the lessons of Ramadan gives a special sermon about how Muslims can continue good works throughout the rest of the year.

The remainder of the day is spent celebrating, which includes lots of food, gifts for the children, and visiting with family and friends. On this day, Muslims put on their best clothing. They express their thanks by distributing alms among the poor and needy.

Last week, on Thursday morning, Eid prayers were about to start, so I took my place alongside my friends and patiently waited for the imam to begin. After the ritual prayer, we prayed for our families and friends, for our relatives and all victims affected by recent catastrophes. We prayed that Allah may guide us all to Heaven.

After this, shouts of "Eid Mubarak!" or "Happy Eid!" could be heard from all directions as everyone rose to join their friends for breakfast.

The rest of the day was a blur, and glimpses of candy, gifts, and smiling children surrounded me throughout the day.

Fasting, then food and fun

The celebrations continued on Friday, when the mosque organized a carnival-like event for all the mosque's children - which, of course, includes me.

Walking in at about 2 p.m., I immediately caught sight of all the cool stands around the tent - a cotton candy machine, a popcorn machine and various games. A reptile show also took place; many kids had a ball holding the snakes and lizards. Lunch was also provided via potluck. It was fun for the entire family.

Ramadan of 2005 was a blessed and joyous month. I am sad to see it go, but assured that it will come again next year, God willing. The lessons and values learned during the courseof this month last a lifetime.

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