Hundreds gather for event celebrating Ramadan

This article about the Eid celebration published in the local newspaper, SCV Signal, in their Friday edition.

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July 18, 2015 | By The Associated Press | Signal AP 

On Friday morning more than 800 people gathered at Rancho Pico Junior High School for a special service of prayer and celebration marking the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.

The three mosques in the valley, Al Umma Center of Santa Clarita, Unity Center of Santa Clarita, and the Islamic Center of Santa Clarita, worked together to organize the event.

“This event gives people a sense of community and strong family values, since the gathering is like a larger family,” said Majub El Arabi, 68, who is on the Board of Trustees for the Al Umma Center.

Ramadan is a mix of a religious and cultural event. It calls for followers of Islam to fast every day from sunrise to sunset. They are not allowed to eat or drink water. Muslims can break their fast every night after the sun has set.

Friday’s celebration is known as the day of Eid. Ramadan began June 18, and Friday marked the completion of fasting with celebration and supplication to Allah, the Arabic word for God.

This is the fourth year the three mosques have gathered for the Day of Eid.

The morning started with chanting, followed by quite prayer where attendees prostrate on the ground. Later a message was delivered by a community leader. Finally, the event closed as each attendee greeted and congratulated other attendees for completing the month of fasting.

“It is a very spiritual experience,” said El Arabi. “We are called on to do good deeds and be helpful to others. It is a month of mercy and spirituality. It also helps me understand what it feels to go without, for people who have a hard time finding food or shelter.”

El Arabi explained another requirement of Ramadan, besides fasting, is doing good deeds, being kind to others, abstaining from sexual activity and doing acts of charity.
Participants explained this is also an important part of Ramadan, knowing the poor and homeless go without food and empathizing with them.

Children, the elderly and those who are sick are not asked to fast because it may be too stressful for their bodies.

“I feel good doing something for God,” explained Mohammed Kaamoush, 70, director of the Islamic Center. “It also helps me to be more productive and focus on work.”

Dr. Omaran Abdeem, 45, was this year’s Day of Eid speaker. Beforehand, he planned to focus his message on the importance of being kind to one another, connecting with family and fasting as an act of worship.

“It is supposed to be a time for self-discipline, putting worldly things behind us and enhancing our spiritual connection with God,” said Abdeem. “It is also an exercise in empathy with others.”

Participants explained the first few days it is difficult to fast for 15 hours. By the end of Ramadan, many say the fasting has become habit and it has helped them to be focused and spiritually connected.

“When you have peace of mind and peace of god, your health also gets better,” said Kaamoush. “People feel really good.”

Abdeem explained many people face difficulties in their lives which may seem insurmountable, but going through Ramadan helps to train people to face the challenges of life.

“It gives me a great sense of spiritual uplifting, I become closer to God, the Qur’an and I become better at worship,” said Abdeem.

Abdeen explained, done once a year, it is a way for Muslims to give their faith and dedication to God a “tune up.” In Islam, it is referred to as a “cleansing of the heart,” helping people to better focus on their faith for the rest of the year.

“Our faith is in the news frequently because some people engage in evil acts of terror, they proclaim to be Muslims, causing others to be apprehensive about our faith,” said Abdeen. “I hope Ramadan shows we want to contribute to the community. We have an obligation as Muslims to be positive forces in the community and help others. This is what is at the core of our faith.”

Attendees of the three mosques were asked to invite neighbors to the Eid event. It is meant to be a true connection of community and outreach.

“Our religious belief is to take care of our neighbors, it doesn’t matter what religion,” said Moadzem Chowdhury, chairman of the Unity Center. “As humans we stand for each other.”