Saturday, 11 September 2010

Awe-inspiring images as millions of Muslims across the world gather together to mark end of Ramadan


By Mail Foreign Service

Packed: Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayers in front of the Taj Mahal in northern India
Friends and relatives feasted on all manner of dishes denied them during the 28 days of Ramadan.

Far from the din and controversy embroiling interfaith relations in the West, Muslims worldwide thronged mosques, cafes and parks in a solemn and joyful end to the fasting month of Ramadan.

Authorities increased security in some countries due to fears that violence could intrude on the three-day celebrations which began with yesterday’s new moon – the symbol of Islam.

But for most Muslims it was a day of peace, family - and most important food.

Smokers also happily puffed on cigarettes in broad daylight as the Eid al-Fitr festival got under way.

During Ramadan, the faithful are supposed to abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex in a dawn-to-dusk period meant to test the faith and discipline of Muslims.

‘It's nice to be eating, drinking and smoking during the daytime,’ said Jordanian banker Mutaz Kurdi, 37, as he walked his two children in an Amman park. ‘Fasting was difficult this year because of the summer heat.’

Business was brisk for ice cream vendors in Baghdad, where children decked out in holiday finery rode Ferris wheels at amusement parks and raced horse-drawn carts on traffic-free streets.

Devout: Worshippers in neat rows fill every part of the National Mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh

The place to be: Hundreds of thousands fill a field to say prayers in Bhopal, India

All pray to to Mecca: Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims inside the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia

Smaller gathering: Pakistani flood victims pray outside the damaged mosque in the village of Sadikiya

Mountain of prayers: Tens of thousands of Muslims attend the Eid al-Fitr prayers in Dashaping, near Lanzhou city, China's Western Gansu Province

While in Gaza, thousands of Palestinian children, most dressed in new holiday clothing, thronged the streets of Gaza City, which were decorated with banners wishing a ‘Happy Eid.’ Hamas activists distributed candy and toys to children who lost parents during Israel's bruising war in Gaza nearly two years ago and in other conflicts.

In the West Bank, men with children in tow paid respects to female relatives - mothers, sisters and aunts - bearing gifts of sweets as well as cash. The women greeted their visitors with offerings of baklava and other pastries.

In Egypt, hundreds of thousands flocked to the Giza Zoo while others rode traditional sailboats known as feluccas on the Nile River.

Millions prayed at some 3,000 outdoor sites as clerics gave sermons about the need to end disputes among family members and the virtue of forgiveness.

New moon: A crescent - marking the start of a new lunar month and the symbol of Islam - is seen in the sky from Silver Spring, in the U.S. state of Maryland

Time to eat: Residents of Peshawar, Pakistan enjoy breaking their fast once again eating in daylight

Celebration: A Muslim family in New Delhi, India, buys balloons as they leave after offering prayers

Happy: Palestinian look joyful as they gather outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City

Many were especially happy to see Ramadan end this year because it began in August for the first time in 33 years, coinciding with the hottest time of the year, with temperatures pushing 50C in many countries in the Middle East.

Jordanian tour operators said occupancy in Aqaba, Jordan's sole sea outlet, was 100 percent as tourists rushed to catch up with the last days of summer.

In Iraq some boys battled each other with plastic guns, ignoring a ban on toy weapons imposed so children would not be mistaken for militants.

Still, soldiers guarded playgrounds and public parks, and additional military and police checkpoints were erected across the Iraqi capital - a reminder the country still faces near-daily bombings and shootings despite a dramatic drop in attacks.

Ali Issa, a 41-year-old father of four from the Shiite slum of Sadr City, said Iraqis have little to look forward to this holiday season, with prices on the rise and continuing political bickering.

‘The security situation is deteriorating and so is the economy,’ Issa said. ‘This year, I only bought new dresses for my two girls while I asked the two boys to use their old clothes because I cannot afford new clothes for everybody.’

Covered: Thai Muslim women pray outside Pattani central mosque

In need of shade: Muslims shield their eyes from the sun at the King Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco

Hallowed ground: Indian Muslim devotees offer Eid al-Fitr prayers in the rain amongst the ruins of the Ferozshah Kotla fort and mosque in New Delhi

Troubled land: Afghan Muslims outside a mosque in Kabul

In Yemen, authorities warned people to pray inside mosques and deployed heavy security after posters signed by al-Qaida threatened attacks. No outdoor prayers were held in two southern provinces after officials urged people to avoid large gatherings.

War-weary Afghans marked the holiday with prayers for peace in mosques as well as family gatherings in homes. President Hamid Karzai urged the Taliban to lay down their arms and join peace talks - a theme often repeated in presidential speeches but so far unheeded by significant numbers of Taliban.

The normally festive atmosphere for Eid in Afghanistan was tempered not only by the war but by bitterness over a threat by a small Florida church to burn copies of the Islamic holy book Quran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

At least 11 people were injured in scattered protests across the country, police said.

‘Muslims are not going to be humiliated,’ cleric Mohammad Ayaz Niazi said during a sermon in Kabul.

‘From this mosque, I'm asking the world to prevent this crime, which could destroy global peace.’

source: dailymail

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