End of Ramadan draws thousands for Eid prayers
August 28, 2012
By Lillian O'Rorke
After fasting for the month of Ramadan, several local families joined thousands for a morning of prayer and celebration Aug. 19 at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound’s Mosque in Redmond.
“This is the day that should be the most happy day of the year,” speaker Abdurrahman Hejazi told the crowd of more than 2,000 that gathered for the first of two Eid Al-Fitr prayers. “When you feel this happiness, make sure you want others to be happy.”
As the 9 o’clock hour rolled in, police officers directed traffic and a steady stream of people flowed into the mosque’s doors. Women used the occasion as a chance to catch up and socialize. By the time everyone knelt to pray there were so many people gathered that the doors were opened and a tarp was spread on the ground for men to stand barefoot while the celebration overflowed into the open air.
“It’s a culmination of a monthlong activity that has us focusing on generosity, spirituality, patience and community,” said Salah Dandan, of Sammamish. “It’s important to celebrate and feel happy with friends and family.”
Hugs were passed around like candy as the first service drew to an end and people slowly made their way outside, pausing to chat with those headed in for the 10 o’clock prayer. Standing in the sea of people, it was hard to imagine that anyone was missing.
“There are quite a lot of people that are absent because they are back home visiting family,” said Tarik Hassane, of Issaquah, board president for the Sammamish Mosque. He added that people often use the holiday to spend time in the country they or their ancestors immigrated from.
Mohammad Kaddoura now lives in Issaquah after moving from Jordan 16 years ago. He didn’t make the nearly 7,000-mile journey this year but his sister did.
“She’s still jet-lagged and happy to be here,” Kaddoura said. He added that his sister was enjoying the diversity that she usually would not see back home. “The beauty about Islam in America is you can probably count 100 different nationalities in the mosque yet they all pray together.”
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn till dusk, abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and is used as a method of spiritual self-purification, to help develop self-restraint and to encourage compassion and generosity by experiencing what it’s like to go without day-to-day comforts.
For people like Asif Nasar, of Sammamish, celebrating Ramadan and Eid is also a way to stay connected to their values and culture.
“When you are living in a country where it is a different environment and belief, if you want to stay close to your religion then you have to make this day important,” he said.
It is also a chance, he added, for others to see Muslims for who they really are.
“Human beings are basically the same,” he said. “If you really look at the whole message it’s basically the same.”