By GWEN OREL
For many practicing Muslims, the fast of Ramadan is no hardship. Not eating or drinking from dawn to dusk during the holy ninth month is something they’ve grown used to over many years, and knowing that good deeds count double during the month, and focusing on studying the Quran, more than make up for it.
Kevin Dawud Amin, imam of Montclair’s Masjid al-Wadud, is trying to read through the whole Quran in Arabic.
But that is not to say that Muslims don’t look forward to the holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
The holiday, which falls on June 4 this year, marks the end of the fast. (The holiday begins on the evening of June 3).
Montclair Muslims will celebrate in Verona. Prayers will begin at 8:30 a.m. at 56 Grove Ave., the Islamic Center of Verona. Then there will be rides and a festival in Verona Park.
Eid al-Fitr is not to be confused with the other holiday of Eid, Eid al-Adha, which takes place on Aug. 10-11, celebrates the Haj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca, and lasts for three days. All Muslims celebrate it, whether or not they’ve made a pilgrimage that year.
After the morning prayers, there will be a break fast spread, with bagels, and then a festival for the kids, including bouncy castles.
Bagels? “I worked in New York for 10 years,” said Amin. “I love bagels. The real bagels.”
Members of the Masjid leaving Jummah prayer this past Friday afternoon look forward to breaking their fast with sushi, tortillas, Indian food, the different foods reflecting an American experience.
Eid al-Fitr is celebrated differently in different parts of the world, Amin explained. In America, partly because children do not receive gifts at Christmas time, gift-giving is a big part of the holiday. It’s evolved this way in America so children won’t feel they’re missing out, he said.
In Asia, after Salat, the morning prayer, people go visiting, and everywhere they go, there is food, he said.
Buzz Aldrin middle-schooler Forhan Ahmed, 12, acknowledged that it’s hard going to school
and seeing his friends eat. But he’s proud he’s able to fast at his age. And “there’s a huge buffet at the end of it,” he said. “It’s a blessing to see all that food again.”
Of course, Muslims do eat every day during Ramadan when the sun goes down. Eddie Hall, who volunteers on the Montclair African American Heritage Parade, was carrying a packaged sweet potato pie and apple cobbler, sold by a member of the Masjid, to eat later as he left the Masjid. He grew up a Presbyterian, but has been a Muslim for more than 20 years and appreciates the time of Ramadan as a time when he can become a better person.
“Eid is really a celebration,” Hall said. “There is gift-giving, just like at Christmas for Christians.” He’ll be getting gifts for his own kids, and books about Islam for some of the kids at the Masjid, he said.
Abdur Yasin said the only gift he wants is prayers. Then he thought about it and added, “I want a Rolex,” to the laughter of friends.
Melinda Lee, who is pregnant, has had to take breaks from the fasting. She hopes to fast for the last five days of Ramadan. Her family comes to the Masjid from West Orange.
Her older children, Lillian, 8, and Kyle, 10, are fasting, but not the baby, Imani. Kyle hopes to get video games, and Lillian hopes to get LOL dolls.
Lee and her husband, Ken Lee, look forward to gathering on Eid and seeing people they often would not see.
Amin agreed. “You get a chance to see everybody you haven’t seen in a while, because everybody comes,” he said. People come who aren’t regulars at the mosque. “We call them Ramadan Muslims,” he continued with a laugh. “Just like you can’t get in the church on Christmas and Easter.”
For some people, coming on Eid is their bare minimum, he
“I like going to the Eid grounds,” he said. “I stay there and I talk. I enjoy seeing people. And if you’re a real Muslim, you enjoy being around other Muslims. Is that the main thing? No, but it’s part of it. Kids having fun in the bouncy house? Is that the main thing for the Salat? No. It’s not the main thing for the holiday.” But then again, for the kids, talking to other people is not the main thing: they want to run around, get gifts. “They want to have a good time.”