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Muslim Americans Prepare for Eid-ul-Fitr

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  • Zafar Khan
    More on Eid at: http://www.islamawareness.net/Eid/ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Muslim Americans Prepare for Eid-ul-Fitr Diverse
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2006
      More on Eid at:

      Muslim Americans Prepare for Eid-ul-Fitr
      Diverse community draws on old traditions, new customs
      By Lea Terhune
      Washington File Staff Writer
      04 October 2006


      Washington --When American Muslims celebrate
      Eid-ul-Fitr they observe the same religious traditions
      familiar to Muslims around the world, but celebrate in
      a distinctly American way, as people from diverse
      national and cultural backgrounds come together to
      share the feast.

      Imam Mohamed Magid from the All Dulles Area Muslim
      Society (ADAMS) center in Sterling, Virginia, says
      that Muslims in America look forward to Eid-ul-Fitr
      for several reasons. Besides the religious
      observances, breaking the monthlong Ramadan fast and
      socializing, Muslims receive special greetings from
      the president of the United States. “It makes Muslims
      feel their holiday is part of mainstream American
      holidays,” the imam told the Washington File.

      It has been a tradition to mark the occasion of eid in
      the White House since George H. W. Bush was president.
      The Clinton White House continued the observance, as
      has George W. Bush. In 2001, a U.S. postage stamp was
      issued commemorating eid.

      According to Magid, new technology has made it easier
      to plan eid celebrations. Now Muslims accurately can
      calculate when the new moon will signal the beginning
      of eid in their locality. No longer must they wait for
      an imam to sight the moon. “They can know far ahead of
      time when to take off work,” he said.

      The ADAMS center has a congregation of 5,070 families
      from diverse Muslim traditions. The mosque is known
      for its openness and involvement in interfaith
      dialogues. Sunni and Shiia worship there together. “I
      think we find a common ground being Muslims and
      Americans. We focus on the common good, working and
      studying together,” Magid said. “Respect for all in
      Islam must be in a mosque,” he said. “Respecting each
      other and living in harmony.” He said his mosque
      initiated a Sunni-Shiia dialogue, which is continuing
      nationwide. “We hope we can send the dialogue to
      Pakistan and Iraq” and other places where there is
      conflict between the two sects, he said.

      Most families observe the same general eid customs of
      going to the mosque after sunrise. “Before anything we
      offer zakat,” or alms to the poor, said
      Moroccan-American Saad. In America, this is
      customarily done through the mosque. Then special eid
      prayers are said. Usually, on Eid-ul-Fitr, the
      faithful pray in a large group in the mosque, outdoors
      or in some other venue where an imam will give a
      sermon. The Ramadan fast is broken with sweets.
      Everyone wears new clothes -- especially children are
      dressed in bright, new outfits. Later, most families
      celebrate with a sumptuous midday meal complete with
      holiday delicacies. Meeting relatives and friends is
      also an important part of the eid celebration.

      Magid, who is originally from Sudan, says part of his
      eid celebration is taking his children to an amusement
      park for a special day of recreation. Amina,
      originally from Egypt, makes traditional cookies or
      kak-ul-fitr for her family to break the fast, as do
      Arab-American Muslims from the Gulf states.
      Iranian-American Muslims prepare a sweet,
      saffron-spiced rice dish and halwah in honor of the
      holiday. And for the big luncheon, halal meat is
      readily available in cities and towns with Muslim

      Businessman Mukit Hossain, who hails from Bangladesh,
      told the Washington File that on eid Bangladeshi
      Muslims relish vegetables fried in batter and moori,
      puffed rice with chickpeas. Misti doi, a thick yogurt
      sweetened with palm sugar and lassi, a yogurt drink,
      are also a must on his Eid-ul-Fitr menu.

      Hossain said Bangladeshi Muslim organizations
      sometimes invite members of the Bangladeshi-American
      community to special observances. Eid sermons are
      delivered in English because many second-generation
      Bangladeshi Americans do not speak Bangala, and
      American Muslims have various ethnic and linguistic
      origins. Regarding the eid sermon, Hossain said, “If I
      know a person who is ultraconservative, I avoid those
      people because, in my humble understanding, they don’t
      represent Islam.”

      The majority of Muslims in the United States are
      African Americans. South Asians are thought to be the
      second largest group, with Arab Americans third
      largest. Estimates of the Muslim population in the
      United States range between 3 million and 8 million.
      There are more than 800 mosques in the United States.

      In the hectic pace of daily life, Muslim Americans
      have the same difficulty meeting their friends
      socially as do most hard-working Americans.
      Consequently, Hossain identifies one of the greatest
      joys of eid saying, “You meet a lot of people you
      haven’t seen in a long time.”

      (The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of
      International Information Programs, U.S. Department of
      State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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