More than 500 followers gathered Sunday in what used to be a Catholic church to celebrate Eid — the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
It was the first time the joyful holiday’s end had been celebrated at the new home of the Masjid Ul Mumineen congregation, which bought the church in March and quickly transformed it into a mosque. They removed the pews, added a carpet brought from Saudi Arabia, put up Arabic religious decorations and placed symbols that indicate the direction to Mecca — the direction toward which they pray.
“For the first time I saw a huge crowd here for prayer,” said Sabrina Mahin, a member of the Sunni Muslim mosque at 25201 SW 137th Ave. “In America, you don’t find Muslims that are bonded together, but here we see many Muslims united.”
Early Sunday, the congregation received advice, instruction and prayed to the Almighty as part of the Eid service.
“It’s one of the best days of our religion,” said Mohammad Bhuiyan, director of the Masjid Ul Mumineen mosque. “We have no more fasting until one year; we are all so happy.”
The women, who pray in a separate room, hear the imam, or the Muslim priest, through a speaker and pray in unison with the men.
Nine-year-old Wakiya Bhuiyan adorned her hands with henna tattoos, picked out her favorite pair of shoes and wore fuchsia-beaded attire from Bangladesh especially for Eid.
“It’s a little hard to stay quiet during prayer, but I’m used to it. I like that we can celebrate,” said Bhuiyan.
Muslims celebrate the end of fasting, which they did for the past month from sunrise to sundown as required by the Koran.
“It is the command of Allah, and it brings us closer to the poor people,” said Bappi Chowdhury. “We are fasting for all the people that do not have food. Then we break the fasting and we enjoy and celebrate.”
They share typical Muslim dishes with spices and sweets, spend time with their friends and family members, and allow the kids to celebrate with games.
The mosque brought in a trackless train, swings and a Ferris wheel for the kids on the mosque’s 2 ½-acre tract.
“We get a carnival and cotton candy,” said 10-year- old Nishat Alan. “Everyone is here, my friends and family, and everyone is having a good time.”