To the Editor:
Noticed the crowd of Muslims in Bayonne’s 16th Street Park early in the morning on Aug. 30? After 29 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting and increased nightly prayer, Muslims from every corner of the globe celebrated the closing of Ramadan and the coming of Eid ul-Fitr on Aug. 29, beginning at sundown and ending at sunset the following day.
The end of Ramadan and the start of Shawwal are determined by the sighting of the new moon (or the absence of a moon). Around tables crowded with fruits and relished sweets, families and friends gather, sharing their excitement and happiness over the coming of Eid. Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, the month following Ramadan as per the Islamic lunar calendar. Instead of wrapped presents and boxed gifts, parents and friends give each other money and sweets in celebration of Eid.
Because Eid-ul-Fitr commemorates the end of Ramadan, the month conspicuously known for its obligatory dawn-to-sunset fasting, it is forbidden to fast on Eid. It is also highly recommended to have a small breakfast before leaving to Eid prayers. Furthermore, Muslims are mandated to pay a sum of money for each member of their household before the start of Eid prayers. The purpose of this obligatory charity, known as zakaat ul-fitr, is to help the poor buy three meals, one for the night of Eid and two for the day of Eid.
Eid prayers are traditionally offered in the early hours of the day, usually at 8 a.m. Clad in bright and new clothes, Muslims gather in mosques and parks to offer Eid prayers. After the prayers, a short sermon is offered, and then families unite with friends and spend the day at game arcades or other places of fun and entertainment.
Many of your Muslim friends may continue fasting even after Ramadan though. During the month of Ramadan, a Muslim is temporarily exempt from fasting if he/she is travelling or sick, and a woman is excused from fasting during the days of her menstruation. However, any day in Ramadan not fasted must be made up for and fasted within a year before the coming of the next Ramadan. Thus, many Muslims fast immediately to make up for their days not fasted because their digestive systems are still used to their “Ramadan-schedule.”