Fasting turned to feasting for hundreds of Muslims gathered Thursday morning to celebrate the end of Islam’s holy month.
Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Fast-Breaking that marks the end of Ramadan, was an occasion for praying, eating and community-building at the Islamic Society of Augusta’s community center in Martinez.
“Ramadan was about self-restraint,” Imam Jamal Daoudi told the congregation during his sermon that followed prayer. “To discipline yourself in something minor so during the year you can discipline yourself in something bigger.”
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunup to sundown. Celebrating Eid al-Fitr “revives the life of the heart,” Daoudi said.
The crowd filled the mosque’s prayer space, which can accommodate 500 people, and women and children overflowed onto the indoor basketball courts. The mosque, which opened last October, was designed with room for growth and for large groups on holy days.
Last year on Eid al-Fitr, the festival was held at the community’s former mosque after construction delays postponed the opening of the new mosque in time for the end of Ramadan. The old mosque was so full that some arrived an hour early to get a spot and others waited outside in the rain for their chance to eat.
“It’s a lot more space. You don’t have to worry about if you get here late you will be out in the parking lot praying,” said Ayesha Ahmed, of Evans.
With more room, prayer isn’t disrupted by ambient noise, and there is more airflow to help the mosque stay cool, Ahmed said.
Ismail Kadur, of Martinez, said the Eid festival was a reminder of the vibrant community that responds to the invitation to prayer.
“You love to see it (the mosque) filled. Any place of worship you like to see it full,” he said. “Otherwise, it becomes just a building.”