On Wednesday, May 12th, Muslims all over the world celebrated Eid al-Fitr. It is a very special holiday as Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, which is the holiest month on the Islamic calendar and the month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown. On the morning of Eid, Muslims wear their new clothes and usually gather at a Mosque to pray Eid prayer. After Eid prayer, kids get money and candy from their parents and other family members and friends. Muslims spend the rest of the day celebrating Eid with family and friends.
This year because of COVID-19 restrictions, Eid prayer could not be held indoors so the Malden Islamic Center (MIC) held Eid prayer at Devir Park. There were two separate prayers because of the restrictions. People also had to register beforehand to come to the Eid prayer.
Mohammed Abutaha, the chairman of MIC board of directors and in charge of the Mosque programming committee, was in charge of organizing this Eid event. He said that it was well organized and despite the restrictions “it went smoothly.” Abutaha liked the fact that it was held outdoors because more people could come as opposed to indoors. He said, “it is bigger and it is more fun.” Also, this way kids can play in the park and people can have picnics with their families.
Abutaha hopes that in the future there will be one prayer instead of two separate prayers to “show more unity for the whole Muslims instead of separating them.” Abutaha also wants to make some logistical changes. For example, next Eid they might add a tent to take cover from the sun. In the past MIC had Eid festivals and he hopes to have them once again next Eid.
Larbi Braer is a board member and he is in charge of building management. He thinks that the event was successful and was happy with the attendance. However, he wishes that the Eid prayer was open to everyone but that wasn’t possible because of COVID. Braer said that it was better outdoors because they would have needed a lot more volunteers indoors and there would have been even more restrictions. He hopes in future Eid prayers “[they] can do more fun things and activities for the kids and the community.” He also wants to remove registration because people tend to not show up when there is registration because they are afraid that “they aren’t going to be accepted to attend the prayer.” Braer says that this is not right and “[they] accept everybody.”
Braer is thankful for the good relationship MIC has with the city and officials. He said that it is “a big plus for [them] because [they] never have a problem.” Braer wants to “thank the city and everybody who gave [them] permission for having Eid outside.” He also wants to show the Malden community what Eid is and get closer to them. Braer also wants to show Muslim kids the “happiness of Eid, not just pray and go home.” He wants to have more food and activities for them and give them “something happy to enjoy.”
Mayor Gary Christenson also attended the Eid Prayer. He thought that the event was great especially because it was in the middle of the pandemic. He said that the location didn’t matter “as long as we’re all in this together.” Christenson said that the prayer was “very well organized” and everyone he talked to was happy with the event. To him “that’s the telltale, whether or not it was a successful event.” Christenson has been a part of this event for the past ten years since he has been in office and “[he has] come to expect a lot of people.” He said this is a “good sign for our community because that means a lot of people care not just about the prophet but about our city as well.”
To Christenson, what stood out to him was the “determination to carry on despite this once in a lifetime crisis.” He is also “impressed and proud” of the MIC for pulling off this sacred event. Christenson was happy to see brother Abdul Hamid because after COVID-19, he had not seen him since the ribbon-cutting ceremony at a distance because of the pandemic but this time “[they] could embrace and rekindle the strong relationship that [they] have.”
Christenson said that even with the challenging year, “it is great to know that we still have strong organizations like the MIC moving forward despite it all,” He wants people to know that “we are always going to face adversity in life but if you can continue on [like] the MIC has then we will make through.” He said that he has learned a lot from the MIC and that it has “probably been one of the greatest honors being able to get to know this fate and just how dedicated the MIC is to making our city a better place for us all.”
Teenagers also really enjoyed going to the Eid prayer where they got to see their friends that they might not have seen in a while. Othman Khatimi, a sophomore at Malden High, was “happy that they didn't cancel it or make it too different.” He also thought that the event was well organized. Khatimi thinks “it's good when people get together for these occasions because you get to see people you don't usually see.” He is not used to going to Eid Prayer outside, but said it was nice with the open air and it was safe for everyone. He said that “[it is] not a bad change” having the prayer outdoors.
Sixteen-year-old Yamina Danoune was very happy because she hadn’t seen a lot of people and “it was very nostalgic and therapeutic for her.” The volunteers at the event stood out to Danoune because “they stood there out in the sun just working and [she] appreciates that.” She hopes that for next Eid there would be tents to stay under for shade from the blazing sun. Danoune said that the event was “amazing and beautiful and for the first time [she] felt like it was Eid” and she cannot wait for the next year.
Eid brings happiness to Muslims all around the world. They get to spend time with their families that they might not have seen in a long time. The pandemic has been hard on a lot of people, but Eid is a beautiful holiday that brings people together.