This year, as the Muslim Eid al Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan approached, a major United States greeting card company, for the first time, published Eid greeting cards.

In the past, Muslims in the United States, like Syed Ahmed, had to get their Eid greeting cards from overseas,if they could. But the Bangladeshi-American businessman, who lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, says, "not this year:"

Mr. Ahmed says that previously during Eid he was not able to send greeting cards to his friends and relatives because he could not find Eid cards here. But he says now, the Hallmark company is publishing Eid cards and he will be able to send greetings during the two Eid celebrations.

Hallmark Cards, a giant in the greeting cards industry, with some 17,000 stores nationwide, decided to offer Eid cards this year to meet the needs of an growing muslim population. Deidre Parkes is a Hallmark spokesperson:

"Hallmark, being a greeting card company, we recognized that these holidays are typically celebrated with cards sending and it seems like a good business decision that we are missing a large consumer market that needed to be served," she said. "Also over the past few years we had an increasing number of consumers requesting these cards from us."

Among the illustrations on the front of the Hallmark Eid cards are color paintings of flowers and the golden dome of a mosque. Hallmark avoided using any icons that could be construed as regional or cultural, rather than Islamic. The cards have messages such as "Prosperity and Peace." "Allah's Blessing." And "Celebrating Eid, a day of joy and thanks."