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
"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.
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