Faithful gather at Islamic Center of Grand Junction after Ramadan ends

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Halla Wejs, left, and other Muslims from around the Western Slope gathered Tuesday at the Islamic Center of Grand Junction to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, or the festival of fast-breaking, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Devout Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset during the holy month.

The meal wasn’t necessarily the point, though the food was delicious, a variegated feast representing the native countries of members of the Islamic Center of Grand Junction.

The meal was symbolic, an end to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Tuesday morning, almost two dozen Muslims from across the Western Slope gathered at the Islamic Center of Grand Junction to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, or the festival of fast-breaking.

Ramadan began July 31, and in the month since, Muslims who are physically able fasted from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food and drink. Eid al-Fitr, commonly called Eid (pronounced “aid”), recognizes the end of this time of fasting and prayer.

“This was kind of my perfect Ramadan in my five years since I’ve been in the U.S.,” Abdel Essaifi, one of the center’s founders, said Tuesday morning. “I felt so much good in this Ramadan. I did a lot of prayer, a lot.”

Eid began with congregational prayers of thanksgiving because fasting during Ramadan is a blessing, said Mark Wejs, the center’s president.

“The thing a lot of people ask is: ‘Oh, you’re not eating all day, you’re not drinking anything, how do you do it?’ ” Wejs said. “And, of course, it’s not easy, but you really clear your mind. You focus on spiritual things, and it brings you closer to God.”

Ramadan also is a time to feel kinship with those who don’t have enough food, who don’t have a big nightly meal to look forward to, said Halla Wejs. As part of Eid, Muslims are encouraged to give generously to those who often go without food.

For many, the most important part of Eid is gathering as families and congregations to share fellowship and joy, said Memoona Khan, who’s originally from Pakistan and recently moved to Fruita with her family.

“Eid is for being together like this as a family,” Khan said, indicating her new friends at the Islamic Center, her daughters and son and husband, and everyone else gathered near to celebrate with her Tuesday morning. “It’s a very wonderful day.”


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