Muslims greeted each other with hugs, kisses, gifts and the words “Eid Mubarak” at the Islamic Center of Merced on Wednesday in celebration of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.
Imam Sanaullah Hussain led the congregants in the Salat al-Eid, a special prayer for the holiday, and encouraged Muslims to remember the five pillars of Islam and make time for family and reconciliation.
“The purpose of Ramadan is to be your own master, not a slave to your own desire,” Hussain said. “All who believe, you may become righteous.”
Eid al-Fitr comes at the close of Ramadan, a holy month of fasting for Muslims that marks the first revelation of the Quran to the holy prophet Muhammad. During Ramadan, many Muslims read through the entire Quran and focus on charity, breaking bad habits or creating new habits to better themselves, Hussain said.
Men and women attended separate Eid prayers Wednesday at the decorated mosque on Ashby Road, many wearing their best clothes and ready to feast on traditional foods. The feast included sabaya, a layered bread from Yemen; mamoul, typically filled with dates; and kaak, a sesame bread. Many handed out $5 bills to children and friends.
Though Eid is a holiday focused on charity and preparing to reap God’s reward in the hereafter, many of the worshippers also kept in mind the terrorist attacks that have claimed lives during the holy month.
“For a lot of Muslims, this is a painful Eid,” said Wafa Ghaleb, 34, who was visiting her sister from Michigan. “It’s been really sad for a lot of Muslims, with the attacks on holy places, like Medina.
“It’s clear the messages these people (attackers) are sending does not represent Islam,” Ghaleb said. “It’s anti-Islam. It’s everything Islam is against.”
On Monday, a suicide bombing outside of Medina, one of Islam’s holiest sites where the Prophet Muhammad is buried, killed four Saudi security guards. On Sunday, 175 were killed in Baghdad by an Islamic State bomber, prompting Iraq’s interior minister to resign, The Associated Press reported.
“In any sense, we are not allowed to take weapons and dispose justice,” Hussain said. “We leave that to Allah on judgment day.”
Hussain echoed Ghaleb’s comments, saying the killings had nothing to do with religion. “Those are not the values of Islam,” he said. “Those are the values of extremism. Being Islamic means to submit and surrender to the will of God and peace. Terrorism is the opposite.”
Abdel Qader, a 68-year-old Fresno man who came to Merced to pray with friends for Eid, said this Ramadan he focused on the charitable roots of Islam. “Ramadan is the month of love and peace,” he said. “This is the land of peace, the land of love.”
During Ramadan, as people fast, “there is no difference between the rich and poor,” Qader said. “We are all equal.”
He also said Muslims ask for forgiveness from Allah during Ramadan and thank God for all the blessings this country offers.
Hussain said the whole month of Ramadan is blessed, and God gives every Muslim opportunities to reap the rewards Ramadan offers for the afterlife.
“God created us,” Hussain said. “He knows us. He knows we make mistakes, but he shows us the way out.”
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477