“How Indianapolis Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan”
Justin Mack, Indianapolis Star, June 4 2019
On Tuesday morning, thousands of Muslims from around Indianapolis traveled to the Indiana State Fairgrounds to join the millions of Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr around the globe.
Arabic for “festival of the breaking of the fast,” Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. During the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, many Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset.
The timing of Eid al-Fitr is based on the sighting of the moon, which means it can be difficult to predict when the festival will take place in any given country. Some Muslims were celebrating as early as Monday night. The prayer events at the Indiana State Fairgrounds take place Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
Dr. Jamil AlRazi, one of the event organizers, said this is the third year that the Eid al-Fitr prayer has been held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, and turnout has grown with each gathering.
Last year’s event drew between 2,000 and 3,000 people, AlRazi said.
“Maybe we grow to the point one day where we have (to go to) Lucas Oil Stadium,” AlRazi said with a smile. “For me, to have a large number of people come together and pray and fulfill their religious obligation … that right there is the greatest thing that I can do.”
Julius Mansa, an Indianapolis native, described Eid al-Fitr is a day of family, friendship, prayer, and celebration. He explained that the shared experience of fasting helps forge strong bonds throughout the global Muslim community, and cleanses impurities from the body and spirit.
“The fasting is prescribed to us in order to increase our ‘taqwa,’ or our God consciousness. So it’s there essentially to raise our level of connection with God,” he said. “But also on a greater level… it’s there to increase our connection with those who don’t have food. Worldwide, citywide, whatever. It allows us to walk in their shoes and it creates a level of empathy towards those who don’t have much.
“That’s what it does on a spiritual level. On a physical level, of course, it makes me lose 10 pounds, so that’s a good thing.”
Lana Lewis-Talib, a member of the Eid Committee that put together the event, said fasting is essential and one of the pillars of Islam, the core tenets of the religion. For her it means closeness to Allah, as well as closeness to other Muslims.
She added that one of the goals is to see the united Eid al-Fitr prayer grow to include all of the masjids, or mosques, in Indianapolis. This year, four local masjids came together for the event.
“It brings our community closer together because at the time of Ramadan, around the world, we’re all doing the same thing,” Lewis-Talib said.
Mansa said public events like the Eid al-Fitr prayer is also outreach to the wider Indianapolis community.
“It’s always important to dispel rumors. Especially when it comes to Islam because a lot of people see Islam as a foreign thing,” Mansa continued. “I think it’s always a great idea to have public events like this so that the Indianapolis community and other communities everywhere can see that Muslims are not those people in whatever country doing crazy things.”
In addition to performing the Eid prayer and greeting each other, the festival is celebrated by visiting friends and relatives, hosting food parties and sharing sweets. Children often receive new clothes, shoes, and cash gifts called “Eidi” from their elders and relatives.
The occasion is seen as a time of forgiveness and of giving thanks to Allah for helping people to complete their spiritual fasting. Many Muslims display their thanks by giving donations and food to those less fortunate than themselves.
“It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from. If you’re a revert to Islam, a convert, born Muslim, from Pakistan, America, they’re all going to be in one place together offering the prayers in solidarity,” Mansa said.Tags: eid, Islam, Ramadan