Thousands celebrate Eid al-Fitr in West Philadelphia

On Friday afternoon, Clara Muhammad Square in West Philadelphia had the look of festival grounds as Muslims from all over the city gathered to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

There were bouncy houses, vendors, and live music — along with rejoicing over the end of the spiritual exercise in which Muslims abstain from food between dawn and dusk for 29 to 30 days.

Shakur Abdul-Ali, 67, originally from North Philadelphia, has been Muslim since the ’70s. He said the holiday is rejuvenating.

“We look forward to this,” he said. “It strengthens us. It energizes us. It makes you feel good about being a human being.”

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The Philadelphia Masjid, which operates out of the defunct Sister Clara Muhammad School, hosted the event, which was open to everyone.

During Ramadan, the mosque served food to Muslims observing Ramadan before sunrise and after sunset and welcomed community members to partake.

Aazim Muhammad, program coordinator for the event, said it was an opportunity for members of the mosque to reintroduce themselves to neighbors.

“We’ve been so isolated from the community that people think ‘They’re strange,’ ” he said. “We’re trying to get beyond the doors and walls of our mosque and really go out into the broader community.”

Wahidah Kennedy, 40, from North Philadelphia, led the team of cooks who prepared early breakfast and late dinner. She said serving the food was a rewarding experience.

“You have the brothers [who] already got the grits going,” she said. “The eggs are cracking. You know, the sisters are jumping, ‘What do you need me to do?’ It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful experience.”

The mosque had toys ready for the children, a part of Eid al-Fitr tradition.

In a large room in the facility, children could take their pick from an array of items including toy trucks and stuffed animals.

“They get everything they want,” said Abdul-Ali. “They get all the toys and everything. So it’s just like Christmas to them. They love it.”

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