Southwest News-Herald: Area Muslims Celebrate End of Ramadan

Aside from the Thanksgiving holiday, Muslim-Americans also celebrated Eid al Fitr, or the end of Ramadan, the holiest period to those of the Islamic faith.

Eid al Fitr, which loosely means ‘the breaking of the fast,” is a festive time for Muslim families who are ending a period of fasting and charitable activities.

The holiday is celebrated for one to three days, depending on the person or family. Muslims believe that it was around this time that the Koran, the sacred book of Islam, was revealed to the prophet Muhammad.

During Ramadan, Muslims have to abstain from food, smoking, alcohol, sex and cursing during daylight hours throughout the four-week period.

Those who are physically sick, travelling on long trips or pregnant are exempt from fasting at this time, though. Muslims must be healthy so as to not cause harm to themselves.

This year, Eid al Fitr fell before Thanksgiving on Nov. 26, which gave Muslim-Americans a double helping of festive celebrations.

Palos Hills resident Leila Diab honored Eid al Fitr with friends and family, and called relatives in Jordan to celebrate the occasion.

This year seems significant to Muslims because of the number of children who lost parents or other relatives in the war in Iraq, said Diab.

Because the Koran’s scriptures tell Muslims to give to the poor and suffering, many followers keep in mind the relevance of orphans and others who strive to live and survive. This enables Muslims to feel the suffering of others throughout the world.

Charity has been made by Muslims in many forms — through zakat, or alms, in monetary, silver or gold presents to organizations who send the gifts to Muslim —oriented countries or through local community service.

Two years ago, Diab participated in a soup kitchen in Michigan for a few days during Ramadan, serving food to the needy.

“It was the most rewarding feeling,” she said. “We did it from the heart.”

Oak Lawn resident Caise Hasan said that he honored Eid al Fitr this year with prayer at the Mosque Foundation, 7360 W. 93rd St., Bridgeview.

Later he visited family, called relatives who were overseas, and joined his wife in giving presents for their children.

He also used some time during Ramadan to write poetry and read philosophical articles.

“(This year), it was really somewhat reflective,” Hasan said.

As strong as he tried to be during the fasting period, though, Hasan said that he felt very conscious of the absence of food.

Ramadan and Eid al Fitr do not always occur at the end of the year.

Muslims follow the Islamic calendar, which has 12 months. Ramadan falls in the ninth month, and follows a lunar cycle. Followers fast when the new moon appears in the sky on the first day until the next new moon is seen.

The occasion has also occurred during the summer, which has been reported to be trying to those attempting to fast in hot weather.

“It’s a test of your will,” said Diab. “You challenge yourself.”

Next year, Ramadan will occur on Oct. 15. Eid al Fitr will be held around Nov. 14, depending on when the new moon appears in the sky.

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