Harford County’s Muslim community gathered at the Richlin Catering and Event Center in Edgewood on Monday morning for an Eid-ul-Fitr celebration, marking the end of the month-long observance of Ramadan.
Hundreds of men, women and children, many dressed in colorful, festive outfits, assembled for Eid-ul-Fitr prayers led by Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat. Rehan Khan, executive director of Masjid al-Falaah in Abingdon, addressed the attendees before the prayer.
“It was remarkable that, on a weekday, a large number of people came out to celebrate Eid,” Khan said.
Eid-ul-Fitr brings to a close a month of fasting from dawn to dusk. In addition to fasting, Muslims spend Ramadan giving to charity, praying and spending time in personal reflection. More than 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide celebrated the sacred holiday.
Attendees were encouraged to donate money for zakat, or charity, as they entered the ballroom on Monday. An Afghan refugee family also was welcomed for their first Eid in America.
Bashar explained during the celebration that high moral values of Muslims are an asset for Americans. He also encouraged those in attendance to reach out to their non-Muslim neighbors.
“Once people know Muslims, they have a better understanding of Muslim culture,” said Bashar, who also is the president and founder of Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation and professor of Islamic studies at Notre Dame of Maryland University.
Khan addressed the children in attendance, congratulating those who observed fasting and attended mosque services during Ramadan. He encouraged the children to learn the etiquette of Islam “so that they can grow up as productive citizens of the United States of America.”
“America has a solution in Islam,” he added. “Muslims are an asset to the communities where they live.”
After the prayer, attendees were served a continental breakfast. People hugged each other and posed for pictures as the celebration ended. Local elected officials, including state Del. Steve Johnson, a Democrat who represents much of southern Harford County in District 34A, were among those in attendance.
“It was great that we were able to celebrate Eid this year,” Khan said. “After COVID, it was wonderful to see everyone enjoy each other’s company on this holy day. Everyone who attended was excited to have this gathering, without the need for social distancing.”