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Muslims Celebrate End Of Ramadan

November 4, 2005
By FRANCES GRANDY TAYLOR, Courant Staff Writer

Thousands of Muslims gathered in Hartford Thursday, in both the Civic Center and the Convention Center, to mark Eid Al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. Crowds of families celebrating Eid streamed into both venues, many wearing colorful traditional clothing of India, Africa and the Middle East.

Eid is a day of celebration that ends Ramadan's 30 days of daytime fasting. Eid is also a lunar holiday determined by the sighting of the new moon.

Because the new moon is seen at different times in various parts of the world, the holiday can occur on different days, which almost happened for two groups of Muslims in Hartford.

One group, which met at the Hartford Civic Center, chose to follow the lunar calendar for Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, Islam's holiest city. The other, which met at the Connecticut Convention Center, chose to follow the sighting of the new moon in the Western Hemisphere. For much of this week, it looked as if Eid might occur on two different days for groups representing several mosques in the Hartford area. To be on the safe side, the Civic Center group reserved the hall for Wednesday and Thursday, while the Convention Center group reserved its ballroom for Thursday and Friday.

In the end, because the new moon was sighted Wednesday night, the holiday was observed by all on Thursday. About 3,500 people attended the Convention Center event, and more than 2,500 went to the Civic Center.

Anis Shaikh, a member of the Medina Islamic Center in Windsor, received a phone call Wednesday from a friend in Saudi Arabia who alerted him to the appearance of the new moon. Shaikh said he telephoned the Islamic Center's imam, who called for Eid to be celebrated Thursday.

Imam Qasim Sharief, leader of the Islamic Center of Hartford, said his mosque and the Islamic Center of Greater Hartford, in Berlin, receive their new moon information from the Islamic Society of North America, one of the largest Muslim organizations in the United States.

"The Prophet [Muhammad] said we should look for the new moon where we are," Sharief said. "Our tradition says that the people in each locality must see it for themselves."

At the Civic Center, Mohammed Amin, who attends the Windsor mosque, collected donations in two large plastic baskets.

"We follow the calendar of Saudi Arabia because we want to observe the holiday on the same day as the rest of the world," said Amin.

Linda Miller of Middletown celebrated the holiday at the Convention Center with her father and sister. Her family converted to Islam when her father joined the Nation of Islam in the 1960s. Miller said she called the Islamic Center of Hartford Wednesday night to find out if the new moon was visible yet.

"Everyone ended up seeing the moon at the same time, so in the end we all wound up together," she said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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