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Victoria Islamic Center observes end to Ramadan

By BY JENNIFER PREYSS - JLPREYSS@VICAD.COM
Aug. 30, 2011 at 3:30 a.m.

Shortly after sunrise on the last day of Ramadan on Tuesday, Fouad Khiyat prays, repeating the verse, "By the name of God, God is the greatest." Victoria's Muslim community celebrated Eid al-Fitr at the Islamic Center.

FACTS about Ramadan

Ramadan is held in the ninth month of the lunar calendar

The holy month is usually 29 or 30 days

During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, marital relations, smoking and other unholy acts from sunrise to sunset

Additional prayers are said throughout the month, especially during the final days of the Night of Power

Ramadan marks the time when Allah revealed the Quran to the Islamic prophet Muhammad

Source: IslamiCity.com

As morning prayers concluded at the Victoria Islamic Center on Tuesday morning, Sarina Vasquez hugged Heidi Ajrami, and the two wished each other a Happy Eid.

"Eid Mubarak," the ladies said smiling; each of them wearing their best Shalwar Kameez dresses.

"Everyone's in their new clothes this morning," Vasquez giggled.

Amid a group of about 100 area Muslims, the Islamic Center hosted their annual Eid al-Fitr, a celebration of the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It is one of the two most important holidays in the Islamic lunar calendar, the other is Eid al-Adha.

"I'm so sad Ramadan is over and we have to wait another year until it's here again," Vasquez said.

For the past 30 days, Muslims around the world have spent Ramadan fasting from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, filling that time with supplications and acts of charity.

So on the morning of Eid al-Fitr, Muslim families bring assorted dishes and traditional drinks to finally break their monthlong fast.

"This is a special day, to come to the mosque and praise Allah, and have food, and celebrate with the community," Amber Qasim said. "It's a happy month for me."

In addition to the colored lights streaming over doorways, dozens of presents lined a table in the back room of the Center, and posters made by the children about the Eid, hung on the front wall.

"I love celebrating this day with the children. It's like Christmas for them here. When they get home they're going to have the most special day and so many presents," Heidi Ajrami's husband, Abed Ajrami, said.

For Muslims, Eid al-Fitr is about much more than a gift exchange and breaking their fast with a large potluck breakfast.

Vasqeuz's husband, Imam Osama Hassan, who leads the congregation at the mosque, said the end of Ramadan is about acknowledging the blessings Allah has provided throughout the month, and into the entire year.

"We want to worship like this the whole year, not just during Ramadan. It's amazing to find the different colors, and cultures and mentalities gather together to thank Him," Hassan said.

Breakfast concluded with a call to the children to line up near the gift table.

Vasquez and Hassan called each child's name one by and one and shook their hands as they doled out the presents. After each child received their gift, Hassan ordered the children to rip open their packages. "1, 2, 3, Open!" he said.

For Muslims around the world, Eid al-Fitr celebrations typically continue for three days after Ramadan.

"It's a special time because it shows that God gives us the ability and strength to finish the month; that God made this day for us to thank him and celebrate our worship," Hassan said.

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