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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid