For many years, large public prayer gatherings have been held on Eid al-Fitr in Clara Muhammad Square, which is adjacent to a large mosque, Philadelphia Masjid.
This year they were held inside, though the square quickly filled with people afterwards. Outdoor prayers and festivities were also held at FDR Park in South Philadelphia, organized by United Muslim Masjid.
Eid al-Fitr is one of the two major Muslim holidays observed each year, a celebration of the end of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-dusk fasting that make up the month of Ramadan.
The community coming together to pray outdoors is a practice common in many countries, especially those with large Muslim populations. An estimated 200,000 Muslims live in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is among the first cities in the country to add the Eid holidays (the other being Eid al-Adha) to the public school calendar, a change that will take effect in the upcoming school year.
Because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the dates of the holidays change year by year and often fall during the months when school is in session.
Kenneth Nuriddin, resident Imam of Philadelphia Masjid, said in regard to the annual gathering to pray on Eid al-Fitr, “We’ve been praying here since 1978.”
Philly’s Muslim community is primarily African-American, and though the foreign-born Muslim population has increased in the last 40 years, these African-American Muslims were the pioneers in making Philadelphia the Islamic stronghold that it is today. Here Eid prayers are held in the open and are as well-attended as those in Muslim-majority countries around the world.