Muslim Community Comes Together to Celebrate the Ending of Ramadan
By Hayley Bruce, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - With cotton candy in hand, over 500 people gathered on the front lawn of the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids on Sunday to celebrate Eid, a holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
One of the most important holidays in Muslim culture, Eid is celebrated at the end of a 30 day period in which followers fast during daylight hours, eating and drinking only before sunrise and after sunset.
Timothy Hyatt, public relations committee co-chair for the Center, said the holiday is meant to bring believers and families together to celebrate their blessings after a month in which followers think of those less fortunate while reinforcing their own faith.
"There is a sense of elation and accomplishment," Hyatt said of the holiday. "However, it doesn't just end there. It's a reminder for us that we incorporate all our religious and traditional values beyond the month of Ramadan."
Over 500 people were present for the celebration, which featured prayer sessions in the morning followed by a breakfast and a myriad of outdoor children's activities throughout the afternoon. A catered community celebration dinner was also hosted in the evening.
Participants said fasting was particularly difficult this year due to fact that the holiday landed during the summer, which made for more daylight hours during one of the hottest summers on record.
"This year it was 17 hours of fasting compared to in the winter time when it's maybe 10 hours of fasting," said Arsalan Monawar, a 24-year-old Cedar Rapids resident who also represents the local Pakistani restaurant Habiba. "This is probably the longest."
Ramadan -- which began July 19th -- is pushed back one month every year, as the Muslim calendar is lunar.
Monawar said his family was fasting as they catered the breakfast on the bridge event when RAGBRAI came through Cedar Rapids last month, and the warm temperatures were grueling.
"They were up all night and then they fasted, and then they catered for the morning and went back to work at the restaurant so it was a long, long day, and it was hot that day," Monawar said, adding the rewards are somewhat greater when fasting is more difficult. "So it was nice to see everyone understand that, and understand the challenges of that. But it was an awesome experience," he said.
Others described the holiday as a time of joy and excitement, where the community has a chance to bond.
"The holiday is great because everybody comes together and it's kind of like one big family," said 20-year-old Ajay Shama. "All the cultures from Africa, Indonesia, and all the countries from the Middle East come together."
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