More than 3,000 Delaware Valley Muslims gathered to observe Eid ul Fitr, the holiday marking the conclusion of the holiest month on the Islamic calendar, Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar and during this month, Muslims observe a mandatory fast, abstaining from food, drink and sexual intimacy with their spouses from dawn to dusk. Muslims also engage in extra prayers during the evening and increase their good deeds to their neighbors (both Muslim and of other faith traditions).
Eid ul Fitr, which loosely translates to “breaking of the fast celebration,” includes a congregational prayer followed by a khutbah (sermon), celebratory meals, gift exchanges and activities for the entire family. The Eid ul Fitr festivities were held at George’s Hill in Fairmount Park. Takbirs began at 7 a.m. and the prayer began promptly at 8:30 a.m. The khutbah, given by Shadeed Muhammad, Imam, United Muslim Masjid in South Philadelphia immediately followed. Meals, and toys for the children, were available for all attendees.
This year’s unified Eid celebration is sponsored by the Unified Eid Committee, a division of the Majlis Ash Shura of Philadelphia and Vicinity, a governing body of Imams representing more than 71 masajids in the Philadelphia and Delaware Valley area.
The Unified Eid Committee was comprised of volunteers from each of the participating masajids working on hosting a citywide, unified Eid celebration at the conclusion of Ramadan. The Committee began meeting in September to plan Eid ul Fitr festivities. The Committee worked diligently to plan and execute a celebration that included activities for the entire family, all age groups and was open to any Muslim who wanted to participate.
“Our goal is to reclaim our youth, those young Muslims who are trying to balance their spiritual commitments to Allah and themselves and their secular responsibilities and hardships including the violence in their communities and the lack of knowledge that exist about Islam, Muslims and how we really live our lives,” said Dana Carter, volunteer administrator for the Unified Eid Committee.
The committee secured a wonderful buffet, video games buses, a petting zoo and games and free toys for children. The following masajids contributed to the Unified Eid effort: Masjid Mujahiddeen, Masjid Al-Qur’an, United Muslim Movement/Masjid, Masjid Taha, Masjid Razaqul Karim, Masjid Al Hashr and Masjid Freehaven (N.J.)
Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid, who also serves as the amir (leader) of the Majlis Ash Shura, was very pleased with the outcome of the committee’s efforts.
“It was time. It was time for me and my peers to trust in Allah and allow our young people, our young adults with skill sets and education that benefit the community, to exercise what we have taught them about organization and allow them to plan this wonderful event to mark the holiest month for the Muslim community,” he said. “I and the other participating Imams certainly applaud the committee and all their hard work.”
The following is a short excerpt from the Eid Khutbah offered by Shadeed Muhammad.
“Alhumduillah, today is the Day of Eid for the believers. However this day for us is not just about celebration and festivities commemorating the commencement of this blessed month. Rather, this day represents unification of the Muslims in this city who have for generations been fragmented by the various entities, all of which goes back to shaytan, whether directly or indirectly.
“Unification of the Muslims represents more than just a superficial exterior of consolidation between diverse/adverse hearts for that case we would resemble Bani Isra’eel when Allah said: They will not fight you all except within fortified cities or from behind walls. Their violence among themselves is severe. You think they are together, but their hearts are diverse. That is because they are a people who do not reason. The Holy Qur’an 59:14.
“Rather unification represents or is indicative of the true essence of brotherhood and sisterhood that we embody. And this strengthens the hearts of those with weak faith and their conviction about the decision they made to accept Islam as their religion and to give them a sense pride about being Muslim. Allah called the brotherhood of Islam a blessing.”