Ramadan Comes To A Close

Children at the Malcolm Shabazz mosque, from left, Intisar Abdulali, 12; Qadira Bligen, 7; and Fatou Muhammed, 6, take part in a celebration of the end of Ramadan in New York, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2001. The holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which translates as the Feast of Fast Breaking, was marked with prayers, food and presents for the children. Ramadan ended Saturday. AP

About 3,000 Muslims of all ages and from different parts of the world slipped off their shoes, unfurled their prayer rugs and bowed in worship at a Miami stadium Sunday to mark Eid al-Fitr, or the Feast of the End of Fasting.

Facing east toward Mecca, one of Islam's holy cities, worshippers chanted "God is great" in Arabic and kneeled to the ground and listened to the imam's sermon at the Pro Player Stadium.

"It's a very happy day with a very heavy heart," said Rafiq Mahdi, an imam from a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., mosque. Mahdi asked worshippers to think of Muslims in areas such as Palestine and Afghanistan who might not be able to celebrate.

The celebration was one of many Sunday as Muslims across the United States marked the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan with prayers, feasts and presents for children.

Dozens of Muslims filled the Malcolm Shabazz mosque in New York to exchange gifts and feast chicken and vegetables, while greeting one other with a "salaam alaikam" - peace be with you.

"It's a fun holiday because the fasting is over for me," said Intisar Abdul-Ali, 12, who chose a Power Puff Girls puzzle from stacks of toys laid out on tables.

Eid al-Fitr marks the conclusion of the month of Ramadan, which began Nov. 16. During the month, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse between sunrise and sunset.

Muslims believe that the Quran, the Muslim holy book, began to be revealed to man during Ramadan 14 centuries ago.

This year's observance has been clouded by fighting in Afghanistan and the worsening Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In Southern California, mosques, schools and forums opened their doors to welcome Muslims for Eid prayers.

At Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, more than 1,000 Muslims from Palestine to South Africa to Benin and the United States prayed together. Leaders urged Muslims to remember teachings about rejecting hate and embracing humanity.

Without gaining that wisdom, "you're just going hungry and thirsty for nothing," said Riza Mustafa Khalilullah, an imam with a Los Angeles mosque.

At the Capital Expo Center in Reston, Va., near Washington, Muslim cleric Mohamed Magid joined thousands of Muslims to celebrate, share food and gifts, and pray together.

Magid said he learned after September's terrorist attacks that he has many Jewish and Christian friends.

Mohammed Safa, an economist and Muslim cleric who grew up in Afghanistan, said he just wants "to wish the whole world peace."

Fixing a date for Eid al-Fitr is typically a last-minute affair that hinges on a visual sighting of a slender crescent moon at the end of the month of fasting.

The Web site for the Indiana-based Islamic Society of North America declared Saturday the 30th day of Ramadan, and Eid al-Fitr to be Sunday.



By Miranda Leitsinger © MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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