Thursday 28 December 2000
A day of thanksMontreal Muslims mark end of Ramadan
The mood was spiritual and reflective as thousands of Montreal-area Muslims gathered in mosques and arenas yesterday for prayers to mark the end of Ramadan.
The feast day of Eid al-Fitr marked the end of a month of daytime fasting and abstinence, held in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
In one of the larger gatherings, more than 1,500 people chanted prayers at the Palladium, a roller-skating arena on Taschereau Blvd. in Brossard that had been rented for the occasion.
"We all wore at least one item that was new," said Sayed Naseer, a McGill University librarian who was among the crowd. "I wore a long coat in the south Indian Muslim style, called sherwani, and new socks."
It's exciting for children, too, Naseer said, because they look forward to wearing new clothes.
"It's a day of thanksgiving, marking the fact that we have passed the test of mind over body. It was like a month-long training period, and we hope it lasts the whole year," Naseer said.
"The imam (priest) reminded us to pray for those less fortunate than ourselves, everywhere where Muslims are facing hardship."
Afterward, family and friends embraced and gathered in homes to exchange gifts and share food.
"We wished each other Eid Mubarak (happy holiday), or may we live to see another Eid," Naseer explained.
It was especially auspicious in Brossard because the Muslim community there is growing and next month the foundations will be laid for a new mosque, planned for Grande Allee Blvd. near Milan Blvd. It will be the successor to the Markaz al-Islam mosque in Saint-Hubert.
"We are going to expand and grow in this new building, and we have collected about half a million dollars of the $2.5-million cost," Naseer said.
"We will start with a small building and hope to build it later on into a mosque and community centre.
"It's a five-year plan, but we hope to have the first stage ready by next summer."
Other large prayer services yesterday included gatherings in the main gymnasium at Vanier College in St. Laurent, at the Pointe Claire Holiday Inn on the Trans-Canada Highway, and at the Baha'i Centre in Dollard des Ormeaux.
McGill and Concordia University students prayed together in Concordia's downtown Hall Building.
The next major celebration is the Hajj, to begin in March, when observant Muslims visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia, a pilgrimage expected of all Muslims at least once in their lifetime.
"Those who don't go pray for those who do and join them in solidarity," said Naseer, who performed the Hajj two years ago.
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