The holy month of Ramadan has ended quietly in the United States amid efforts to decrease cultural and religious tensions. Mosques and Muslim groups in the United States are scaling back some Eid-al-Fitr festivities that follow the month of fasting, while also promoting volunteer service.
On the last day of Ramadan, Uganda native Othuman Ntale read one of his favorites passages in the Quran, about fasting and self-restraint.
Ntale is in the process of moving from Massachusetts to Maryland, but spent much of the last month deepening his Islamic faith.
He left his belongings for several days at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, while looking for permanent housing.
Elizabeth Monnac's slideshow featuring African and African-American Muslims
Sandra Lemaire and Dora Mekouar's Ramadan slideshow
Like many other Muslim organizations, the center is avoiding celebrations on Saturday, which will be a September the 11th, nine years after the suicide plane attacks by Islamic extremists in the United States.
Ntale says if you read the Quran accurately, there is no link between his religion and violence. "I really share the pain of those who lost their loved ones on September 11th, but actually I also want to add that Islam condemns terrorism," he said. "Islam has been at the forefront as a peaceful religion teaching man to coexist."
Just before Ramadan ended, the leader of a small Florida church cancelled highly publicized plans to burn copies of the Quran Saturday night, saying he will instead meet in New York with the imam who has been planning to build an Islamic center near the site of the downed World Trade Center towers. Reverend Terry Jones said he had received assurances the Islamic center will be built elsewhere, even though this has been denied by those initiating the project.
In the basement kitchen of a church in Washington, Muslims prayed as they broke fast for the last time.
The president of the George Washington University Muslim student association, Zahin Hasan, called for volunteer service on Saturday. "In the light of the awful timing of Eid and 9/11, you guys know how bad that timing is, I just wanted to please stress that students, please take part in freshman day of service on 9/11. It is a great day for community service. Yes we should be remembering those we lost including our Muslim brothers and sisters but we can make the thing a better situation. We can move on," he says,"We can progress."
One of those who attended the gathering, 18-year-old Khalipha Misawa, says he has been closely monitoring the controversies that U.S media keep returning to, namely the New York Islamic center proposal and anti-Muslim protests. "It seems like the re-emergence of 9/11 tensions have come back so we will see what happens, if the same trend happens or if it escalates or if it is able to die down again like it did," he said.
Participants said it was also up to them to better educate non-Muslims in the United States and show them Islam is about compassion and not conflict.