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Muslims celebrate Eid in Hagerstown

Many enjoy sense of community during holiday

Many enjoy sense of community during holiday

December 19, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN ? Gathering with other Muslims to pray isn't something Nariman Badirov takes for granted.

The 21-year-old Hagerstown Community College student was once persecuted and discriminated against in his native Russia. He has been in the United States for about two years and said he was glad to share Wednesday ? Eid al-Adha ? with the local Muslim community.

He was one of about 500 people celebrating the day of sacrifice at the Islamic Society of Western Maryland in Hagerstown.

Abdul Waheed, president of the Islamic Society, said the sacrifice follows the tradition of Abraham, who was called upon to kill his only son for God. He said that on the Eid, Muslims will traditionally sacrifice an animal, giving one-third to the poor, one-third to their friends and neighbors, and keeping the remaining third for their family.

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"It's a day of happiness," Waheed said. "A celebration."

The Eid also marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

In Russia, Badirov says he and other Turkish immigrants were unable to have a place to gather and pray.

"They didn't want us to have a building," he said.

Waheed said in the past two years about 70 refugee families have come to the area; they now worship at the Islamic Society.

Wednesday's prayer led by Imam Qasim Burmi focused on unity among the "Muslim world," Waheed said.

That was a topic with which 28-year-old Nauman Malik said he agrees. The 1997 Saint James School graduate served two tours of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Army. He lives in Seattle, and was in Hagerstown on Wednesday visiting family.

"We're enjoying each other's company," Malik said. "We'll talk about religion and politics."

Salih V. Yumlu of Hagerstown said Muslims are reminded about community, unity and charity.

"We are to behave ourselves and be kind to each other," he said.

Latif Merrill of Warfordsburg, Pa., says he "reverted" to Islam more than two years ago.

"I caught a glimpse of the truth, and something inside of me said, 'I want more of this,'" he said. "I am very happy to be here and to be celebrating with all of my brothers and sisters."

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