COLUMBIA — "Eid mubarak!"
Several hundred Muslims gathered Wednesday morning at the Knights of Columbus community center to exchange this blessed festival phrase, marking the end of Ramadan and their month-long fast. The expected turnout was the reason for the Islamic Center to schedule the celebration at the community center, but even those walls were not able to accommodate everyone.
The Eid al-Fitr service began with communal prayer, or saleh, continued with admonishment from the imam and concluded with fellowship centered around what Muslims have abstained from during daylight hours for an entire month: food. Tables lined the perimeter of the community center, and as people filtered through the doors, they unloaded sandwiches, sweets and beverages for the celebratory break-of-fast smorgasbord.
Continuing the highlighted message of charity, boxes labeled "Ramadan funds" were placed near the door to collect $7, though some gave more than the suggested donation. Many stressed the importance of giving and selflessness during Ramadan, especially during Eid al-Fitr, and recognized how their blessings should be shared with others in need.
Some compared the holiday to Christmas, drawing similarities between the beautiful new dresses and hijabs worn by women and suits donned by men. Gifts are exchanged, and families return to their roots to share in the feasting and fellowship.