هذا هو رابط الخبر في جريدة ذى نيوز جورنال
وهذا هو نص الخبر في الجريدة الامريكية
A day of faith and friends
Thousands of Muslims gather to celebrate Eid al-Fitr
WILMINGTON -- An estimated 5,000 Muslims gathered Sunday morning at Wilmington's Riverfront center to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a time that marks the end of the monthlong fast of Ramadan.
In addition to its usual meaning, as one of the most important holidays in Islam, Sunday's celebration also marked one of the largest gatherings of Delaware's Muslim community.
Previously, the prayer service and celebration had been held at the Islamic Society of Delaware's Mosque in Ogletown, but the crowds for this important holy day were so large that they could only be accommodated in two separate services.
By moving the service to the riverfront -- following the tradition of holding the Eid service outside the mosque and in the community -- the event may have marked the single largest gathering of Muslims in Delaware to date, said Islamic society president Vaqar Sharief.
Participants said the event allowed them to observe the celebration with family and friends but also gave them a chance to see and meet other members of the Muslim community.
"There is a community effect," said Muqtedar Khan, who attended with his family.
The event also was noteworthy for the coming out of the latest convert to Islam: Dennis O'Brien, a Greenville resident who survived the November attack on hotels in Mumbai, India.
O'Brien took part in the Shahada, a public oath embracing Islam by bearing witness that there is only one God and servant.
While some described it as a conversion, O'Brien said he saw it as an evolution of his Christian faith.
The announcement was made at the end of an hourlong prayer service in a large room at the riverfront center divided in two by a wide aisle, with women in one part of the room and men in the other. Organizers said it is a requirement of the faith that women and men pray separately.
After the service, participants gathered outside where food was offered but many remained in the lobby to greet old friends, to pose for pictures with family and to socialize.
Nazir Nisar said he was impressed by the new, larger locale but missed part of the intimate moments of being a smaller community at the mosque, when families could contribute food for the celebration after prayers. On the other hand, he said it was nice to be able to get a parking spot without difficulty.
"Its great to bring the whole community together," he said, standing next to his 7-year-old daughter, dressed in a new gold and blue dress to mark the occasion.
He said the fasting associated with Ramadan helps to cleanse the spirit and bring the faithful closer to God.
At the end of the fast, some exchange gifts and wear new clothes.
"It is like Christmas for the Christians," said Syed Rahmathullah, standing with his family.
The celebration also is dedicated to helping the poor, and collections were taken at the service to helps others.
Sami Zurga travelled from the Washington D.C. area to be with his family and was impressed by the show of unity of Delaware's Muslim community.
Ironically, another attendee, Ahmad Amer said when he first came to the United States in 1968, he celebrated Eid in Washington D.C. That's because back then, he said it was home to the only mosque he knew of on the East Coast.
Sharief, of the Islamic society, said he hopes Sunday's celebration marked new openness by Muslims in Delaware.
He spoke of having free health clinics at the mosque and offering other events to help dispel some of the fears and falsehoods spread about Islam.
He noted, as one small gesture toward that end, the mosque on Salem Church Road opened its parking lot to the nearby Oktoberfest celebration over the weekend.
He said the society may also offer programs for the general audience in weeks to come.
Having Eid outside the mosque seemed to increase attendance, said Sharief, who estimated previous celebrations drew a combined crowd of about 2,500 or about half of Sunday's turnout.
Sharief thanked operators of the Riverfront Center for accommodating the event, which could not be confirmed until Saturday night with official notice of the new moon, and hopes to return next year with an even larger crowd.