Muslims celebrate end of Ramadan

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2000

For local resident, Dr. Furrukh S. Malik today is Christmas. Malik and other Muslims around the world will celebrate a holiday known as Eid in large gatherings today.

The day is compared to Christmas and marks the end of a month of fasting known as Ramadan.

&uot;There is no fast on (Eid),&uot; Malik said. &uot;That day, in the morning, (we) go to a special congregation to say our prayers.&uot;

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Malik, his family and some friends will travel to New Orleans today to celebrate with several hundred thousand members of the Muslim faith.

The group will collect a special offering for the needy. They will also exchange gifts and visit friends, Malik said.

In Pakistan, the gifts would mostly be cash and local toys but for Muslim children in American the toys are a bit different.

&uot;Those kids love those fighter plants, those monsters and video games,&uot; Malik said.

Malik estimated about 15 Muslim families live in the Natchez area. For Muslims, Eid and the month of fasting that proceeds it, is an important tenant of their faith.

Muslims base the month of Ramada on a lunar calender and began fasting Dec. 9 last year.

The Muslims take part in the fast for discipline and to learn to control their bodies against sin.

&uot;It’s a fast of not just your body but your mind and spirit as well,&uot; Malik said.

Malik said he thinks he has become a more peaceful and less violent person because of the yearly fast.

For example he tends to watch less violent movies, Malik said.

During Ramadan, the fast begins each day an hour before sunrise and lasts until sunset.

After sunset, Muslims eat a snack, often dates and juice, and then they can eat a usual dinner with Kosher meat that evening, Malik said.

&uot;It’s a wonderful way to get in shape. It’s a wonderful way to build your stamina,&uot;&160;Malik said. &uot;From a health point of view, it’s an excellent exercise for the body.&uot;

All Muslims participate as long as they are physically able and are above the age of 11.

Sometimes employment, such as medical school, makes that difficult, Malik said.

If so, Muslims try to adhere as close to it as possible, Malik added.

Ideally, the lessons learned during Ramadan will span the entire year and help people of all beliefs understand each other better.

&uot;The tranquility and peace will carry over to others,&uot; Malik said. &uot;It brings more harmony, more peace and mutual acceptance.&uot;