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Muslim community to celebrate end of Ramadan

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WILLMAR -- After a month of fasting, Muslims will celebrate the end of Ramadan with a feast for Eid al-Fitr.

Since July 20, Muslims have been observing Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, by abstaining from food, drink and sex each day from sunrise to sunset. Eid al-Fitr, which means feast of the breaking fast, marks the end of Ramadan and is usually celebrated with food, song and dance.

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"Eid is a joyous celebration that's sort of a thanksgiving day for the community that was practicing Ramadan," said Abdirizak Mahboub, executive director of the newly formed New Minnesotan Community Development in Willmar. "Families visit, exchange gifts and join together in song and dance."

According to Mahboub, Eid is similar to the Christians' Christmas holiday. Muslim children receive gifts and candies, everyone wears their best clothes and the entire community gathers the morning of Eid for prayer. In predominantly Islamic countries, businesses are closed for Eid.

Muslims fast for 29 or 30 days during Ramadan to sympathize for the poor, Mahboub said. The month reminds Muslims to show empathy and compassion for the less fortunate.

"Ramadan tests the will of the person," Mahboub said. "It teaches you to imagine what it would be like if you didn't have food to eat, so you can thank God for what he has given to you. If you complete the 30 days of fasting, you will be rewarded from God in the hereafter for your good deeds."

On Saturday or Sunday, the local Muslim community will host a community Eid celebration from noon to 6 p.m. at Willmar's Northside Park, 12th Street Northwest and Ella Avenue. The Muslim community won't know if Eid falls on Saturday or Sunday until they can see the moon today, Mahboub said. The Muslim calendar follows the lunar cycles.

The event will include community greetings, event speakers, a time for reflection on Ramadan, and Somali poetry, dance and songs. Each of Willmar's four Somali restaurants has been invited to provide food.

This will be the first all-day Eid celebration event in Willmar, Mahboub said. Everyone in the community, both Muslims and non-Muslims, are invited to the event.

"We are really looking to outreach with the mainstream community," Mahboub said. "We're hoping that the whole community will celebrate with us. The only way we can get to know one another is when we celebrate together."

Mahboub says outreach and education will continue to be a priority for Willmar's Muslim community. They partnered with the Chamber of Commerce earlier this year to hold an event at the YMCA, and they plan to do more events centered on Muslim traditions, holidays and celebrations, Mahboub said.

"We are looking for any way to help the mainstream community learn more about their neighbors," Mahboub said. "We want to work together and be good neighbors and accept one another. We want to add to the existing culture of this community."

According to the Pew Research Center, Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, with about 1.57 billion followers. However, only 2 million of the more than 300 million people in the United States are Muslims.

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Ashley White

Ashley White is the community content coordinator for the West Central Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.


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