Eid al-Fitr 2011 | A Convert’s Eid | Fun with Friends

Early on the morning of Eid al-Fitr, the celebration marking the end of the month of Ramadan, I was awakened by the increase in light emanating from outside my bedroom window. It took a few minutes for me to realize that the power, which had been knocked out by the heavy winds and rain of Hurricane Irene had been restored.

Deprivation and loss brings about a new sense of humility and thankfulness. The electricity restoration was one of the best Eid gifts I’ve ever received. I’m thankful first and foremost to God and then also to Pepco, our utility company.

I arrived early to the Eid prayer but was a little disappointed that on such a beautiful day, we would be praying inside on an indoor track at the Prince George’s County Sports and Learning Complex rather than on the grass next to FedEx Field. I suppose plannng considerations around Hurricane Irene may have forced a change of venue.

The indoor track before the crowds arrived

Later, as the crowds begin to arrive

The Men

The Women

Continue reading “Eid al-Fitr 2011 | A Convert’s Eid | Fun with Friends”

Eid Mubarak! Praying Outside Washington’s FedEx Field

Eid Mubarak to all! Wishing everyone a very happy and blessed day even as we feel the pangs of the Ramadan withdrawal symptoms.

I hope we were all able to utilize the blessed month to its fullest.

(Photos from Eid al-Fitr 2010)

Come Early to Avoid the Queues 

I love the feeling of praying in a joyous sea of humanity, gotta remember the blessings!

Praying outside FedEx field

Brilliant idea to alleviate perennial traffic issues by praying next to a stadium that is used to having tens of thousands every Sunday for football games.

Just a word for those of you thinking of missing this highly encouraged prayer for work or school today, don’t. Go to one of the early prayers and then do what you have to do. I guarantee that it is not from the sunnah of Allah to disappoint his servant who makes an effort to obey him.

I’ve had midterm exams, clinical days in hospital, and mandatory meetings and trainings at work all fall on Eid. But I prioritized the Eid prayer by informing my supervisors and instructors ahead of time and everything worked out beautifully.

I was able to enjoy and celebrate the day and I didn’t lose out on anything in terms of worldly or material benefit.This past week with the DC earthquake and Hurricane Irene I was reminded of what’s important in life, trust me, religion and family rank way above whatever it is you’re going to do today at work or school.

Ramadan in DC | Tarawih Prayer at the University of Maryland at College Park

The Dar us Salaam community in College Park, Md has lost the use of its musalla for large events like Friday prayerEid, and tarawih. For the last couple of years, the community has held its Ramadan tarawih prayers at a local Mariott hotel.

This year, in a welcome change, the community prayed at the Reckord Armory gym on the campus of the University of Maryland. I was pleased to see that we would praying without the need to erect a partition. For me, praying behind a partition or barrier or disconnected in a separate room, balcony, or basement degrades the experience of the congregational prayer.

Unfortunately, there was no organized program for children so there was a lot of the usual little kid “marathon” running during the prayer. And being in a gym, on a basketball court no less, is an invitation to play that is hard for many kids to resist.

One day, the imam leading the prayer ended the tarawih early after only four rakah because the noise from the children made it difficult for him to concentrate. Welcome to the club, that’s the regular experience of prayer for so many women in our communities.

Continue reading “Ramadan in DC | Tarawih Prayer at the University of Maryland at College Park”

Ramadan in DC | Islamic Society of Washington’s Newly Renovated Mosque

Silver Spring, Md

The Islamic Society of Washington (ISWA) was founded primarily by Muslim immigrants from Guyana and Trinidad. I’ve tried to visit ISWA several times since major renovations were recently completed but each time I went the doors were locked.

As a customer service issue, I’d love to see more mosques post their operating hours at their entrances. It’s disheartening to come a mosque only to find it locked and with no way of knowing when it will reopen.

Path to unpaved parking lot

The parking lot was full for evening tarawih prayers so I parked on the grass. It’s dark back there and somewhat muddy. Earlier in the month, I visited the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center and was impressed with the addition of flood lights to illuminate the darker corners of the parking lot.

The main entrance includes a wheelchair ramp

I appreciate that the central entrance is shared by both women and men and that it also wheelchair/stroller accessible.

Your cooperation is appreciated

This sign greets women as they remove their shoes to enter the musalla designated for them. I wonder if there’s a similar sign on the men’s side, if there is, I didn’t see it. Continue reading “Ramadan in DC | Islamic Society of Washington’s Newly Renovated Mosque”

Ramadan in DC | Hurricane Irene’s Aftermath

Annapolis, Maryland

What a week, this Ramadan came in gently like lamb and appears to be going out with a vengeance like a lion. The death toll stands at twenty-two. Thankfully, I’m okay but like many in the DC area, we’re still without power.

Cell phone service is spotty so you might not be able to reach me. Text is good, trying to conserve my battery for as long as I can. No word or estimate yet from the power company on when power might be restored.

Many iftars at mosques and tarawih and qiyam prayers across the DC metro region were cancelled last night in advance of Hurricane Irene.

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Ramadan in DC | Muslim Community Center | A Surprisingly Mixed Bag

The Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Md was either the very first or second mosque I visited after my conversion and it used to be my regular mosque. I had become eager to get my driver’s license because I wanted to attend prayers there more regularly. I thought nothing of driving 25 minutes each way so I could offer the fajr prayer in congregation or to attend Friday prayer.

Yet, when Ramadan rolled around, I was always rather dismayed and disappointed that women were kicked out the mosque completely for Friday prayers. Both upper and lower levels of the mosque are given over to the men and women are directed to pray in a separate building called the “main hall.” In my day, there was only audio but I’ve heard more recently they’ve added an LCD projector screen.

There seems to be no real reason why the divided setup cannot not remain during Ramadan and overflow, both men and women, could be directed to the other building. I was pleased to hear at the iftar dinner there that the mosque is trying to raise funds to expand the prayer space and improve the wudu facilities for both women and men.

I’ve avoided masjid iftars for several years wary of the mystery food items and crowds, so I was a little nervous going to MCC but quickly saw some familiar faces and felt welcome. The layout is surprisingly nice and sophisticated. In one large room, there are three long rows of tables and chairs setup and attendees self segregate into a row for women, families in the middle row, and the men’s row on the other side.

The food for breaking your fast at sunset including dates, samosas, fruit, and sweets are already spread on the table for you along with bottles of water. This eliminates lines or a mad dash at the time of fast breaking and allows you to focus in your supplication. We pray maghrib back in the mosque building and then return to the main hall for a catered dinner.

I was surprised by just how normal everyone seemed, even though we cannot interact in the mosque building without recourse to big blue partitions and separate entrances, we’re able to interact in a perfectly normal and respectful way when eating food together. It’s a strange disconnect. Continue reading “Ramadan in DC | Muslim Community Center | A Surprisingly Mixed Bag”

Ramadan in DC | A Shout of Profanity in the Dark

Last night in Annapolis, Md

During Ramadan it’s not unusual to be up late. Last night, as I walked down the street at 2am, I could see a man approaching from the other direction. As he got a little closer I heard him shout out, “B#*ch!”

Right about then, I began to question why I was out walking alone that late and whether I should’ve turned around or made a run for it.

Then as he neared me, he shouted out in the same loud voice, “Salaam alaikum!” Relieved, I enthusiastically returned the greeting.

I suppose his earlier comment was for the person on the other end of his bluetooth ear piece and not for me, which is still a troubling thought.