While celebrating Eid al-Fitr this year — with prayer services, a petting zoo and eating during daylight for the first time in a month — Pittsburgh Muslims at the Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Monroeville said Monday that they were keeping in mind their brothers and sisters in Gaza and Syria.
The holiday, which a number of people taking part in the celebration characterized as the Muslim equivalent of Christmas, signifies the end of the month of Ramadan, during which devout Muslims abstain from food, water and sexual activity during daylight hours while focusing on giving to the poor.
Salah Almoukamal, president-elect of the Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, preached in the first of two morning prayer services marking Eid. He said participants prayed for those suffering around the world even amid the festivities.
Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan
Muslims at the Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Monroeville celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. (Video by Nate Guidry; 7/28/2014)
“It’s hard to be happy with all that’s happening,” said Dr. Almoukamal, a physician from Monroeville whose parents live in war-torn Syria. But he said he reminded congregants that “you’ve completed one of the pillars of Islam,” the observance of Ramadan. “You need to celebrate.”
Mohammed Ibrahim, an engineer from Wilkins, echoed that thought after preaching at the second service.
“We know the state of the Muslims all over the world,” said Mr. Ibrahim, a native Palestinian who has lived and worked here for more than 30 years. “There are wars and conflicts. This is a time we pray for them, that they find a peaceful solution. We pray for the whole world to co-exist.”
The crowd was made up of a rainbow of ethnic and national groups dressed in everything from business suits to traditional robes, dresses, shalwar kameezes and other attire from their ancestral lands.
Participants interviewed acknowledged that this year’s Eid celebrations were in remembrance of those suffering elsewhere. Hajar Hydari, 29, of Monroeville said charity events and donations have recently been held in conjunction with Ramadan observances. Just a few days ago, she said, she attended a party during which henna tattoos were given in exchange for donations to victims of unrest in Gaza.
But Talal Syed, a visitor from India for his brother’s wedding, said the celebrations should not stop merely because there is unrest elsewhere. He said he has seen friends on Facebook from Gaza, for instance, announcing their celebrations of Eid.
“It’s a time of festivities. We shouldn't let hard times hold us down.”
Peter Smith: email@example.com or 412-263-1416; Twitter @PG_PeterSmith. Wesley Yiin: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1723. Twitter: @YiinYangYale.