News / USA

Muslims Across US Mark End of Ramadan

American Muslims are seen offering Eid al-Fitr prayers at a community center in northern Virginia August 8, 2013 (Mohamed Elshinnawi/VOA).
American Muslims are seen offering Eid al-Fitr prayers at a community center in northern Virginia August 8, 2013 (Mohamed Elshinnawi/VOA).
Mohamed Elshinnawi
As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan drew to a close, Muslim-Americans of diverse backgrounds and national origins gathered in mosques and Islamic centers across the United States to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, or "fast breaking" holiday.
 
While prayers mark the beginning of the celebration, Eid breakfast is an important meal for practicing Muslims, who had been fasting from sunrise to sunset for an entire month.
 
During Eid al-Fitr, Muslims around the world celebrate by performing special prayers, paying social visits and seeking to strengthen family and community bonds.

Eid prayers in the U.S. are usually held either in local mosques or in public facilities designed to accommodate large gatherings. Esam Omeish led the prayers at a ballroom at a hotel in the northern part of the U.S. state of Virginia.

“Eid prayers here are attended by Muslims from more than 40 different backgrounds and national origins. That much diversity does not exist elsewhere except during the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca,” said Omeish.

Participants exchange embraces at the conclusion of the prayers.
Imam Hassan Qazwini, President of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michgan, says his center has to offer consecutive Eid prayers to accommodate the thousands of Muslim participants.

“We perform Eid prayers five times because in such a holy occasion we have more than 7000 worshippers celebrating the end of Ramadan at the center,” said the imam.

American Muslims girls are seen celebrating Eid al-Fitr in northern Virginia August 8, 2013 (Mohamed Elshinnawi/VOA).American Muslims girls are seen celebrating Eid al-Fitr in northern Virginia August 8, 2013 (Mohamed Elshinnawi/VOA).
x
American Muslims girls are seen celebrating Eid al-Fitr in northern Virginia August 8, 2013 (Mohamed Elshinnawi/VOA).
American Muslims girls are seen celebrating Eid al-Fitr in northern Virginia August 8, 2013 (Mohamed Elshinnawi/VOA).
As with most holidays, Eid is a special day for children. They receive gifts or money from their parents, wear new outfits and enjoy their time with their families and friends.

Aziza Khan, a mother of two, attended with her children.

“We put on our best clothes,” said Khan. “Everyone comes dressed up. All the kids are excited, and they love showing off their new outfits. It’s just a sea of gorgeous colors.”

American Muslims do not celebrate Eid the same way people in predominantly Muslim countries do. In the U.S., many Muslims might still have to attend to their daily business during Eid.

Omar Okaily attended the early Eid prayers so that he could go back to his office.

“While we are enjoying our religious freedom in the U.S., our Islamic religious occasions are not official holidays,” said Okaily.

American Muslims mark the end of Ramadan also with charitable contributions to the needy and by helping less fortunate Muslims “taste” the joy of this Islamic holiday. Imam Shaker Elsayed of Dar Alhijra Islamic Center in Northern Virginia explained.

“Before Eid celebrations, we collect ten dollars from each fasting Muslim to buy food and new clothes for poor Muslims in the community,” said Elsayed.

For Muslim-American groups, every year Eid brings an opportunity to educate the American public about the religious observance and the Islamic faith in general. Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations says, "The Council sends out information relating to Eid to our non-Muslim constituency and friends.” The mailing, he says, is intended to serve as a reminder for all Americans that Muslims are an integral part of U.S. society.

Official Eid greetings

Since 1992, U.S. presidents have issued Eid greetings each year to the more than 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide. President Obama congratulated Muslim Americans and Muslims around the world on this joyous day on behalf of the American people.

“Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr here in the United States and around the world,” the president said in a statement. “For millions of Americans, Eid is part of a great tapestry of America’s many traditions, and I wish all Muslims a blessed and joyful celebration. Eid Mubarak.”

Imam Abdulla Khouj, president of the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., believes the Ramadan and Eid greetings offered by consecutive American presidents since early 1990s have helped raise awareness about Islam among Americans.

"When the president of a great country acknowledges the fact that people are fasting and somehow shares with them their feelings, that makes them feel that they are welcome in this country," Imam Khouj said.

For Sami Elenazi, a new resident originally from Saudi Arabia, the greeting had symbolic value.

A fragment of an Eid al-Fitr stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2011 (USPS).A fragment of an Eid al-Fitr stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2011 (USPS).
x
A fragment of an Eid al-Fitr stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2011 (USPS).
A fragment of an Eid al-Fitr stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2011 (USPS).
“This presidential tradition is the best proof of religious tolerance in the U.S.,” Elenazi said. “Although I am a newcomer to this country, I felt at home celebrating the end of Ramadan.”

Since 2001, U.S. Postal Service has been marking Eid by issuing a special stamp with traditional Islamic greetings in Arabic.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs