After a long month of fasting hundreds of Muslims gathered in the parking lot of St. Mary’s Church on Union Avenue to mark the end of Ramadan, Islamic month of fasting, by offering a small prayer.
Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of a month long fasting, is often observed with members of the Muslim community exchanging gifts and visiting friends and families, after finishing up prayers at the mosque.
Men, who gathered in the parking lot, listened to the sermon of the imam, who stood in front of the mass gathering, and dished out Islamic doctrines of charity, fasting, and the rest of the five pillars; imploring the congregants to pay their yearly zakat, a religious tax, where about 2-percent of one’s income is designated towards charity. Muslims are obligated to pay the two percent in order to sustain the poor and needy in their communities.
The outside venue invited nearby neighbors to stand on their portico to watch the prayer commence and run its course; a few people were gawking from the porch of their homes witnessing the fantastic spectacle.
It is not uncommon for Muslims to rent out large parking lots for the event due to the large number of individuals who attend the prayer – the parking lot was packed. Mosque officials laid out a large piece of plastic over the church’s paved parking lot, and informed members of the community to bring their own prayer mats – almost every one brought their own mat, creating a mosaic of different colors.
After the brief prayer the men exchanged hugs – Arabic hug, which is simply twice as a regular hug; after the exchange many invited each other to visit their homes. Visitations often come with free food because most, who have fasted for an entire month from dawn until dusk, are famished, and more than happy to munch.
It customary in most Muslim communities for only the men to attend the mosque, while the woman remain home; however, that is mere custom. Men, who brought their children to the prayer, trod back home with them, imparting a lesson, that they hope will last for generations to come.