It was a beautiful, balmy morning on the rolling 22 acres of Makkah Learning Center at Brandy Farms Lane in Gambrills, MD.
A colorful sea of men, women and children of many races and ethnicities were united in takbeerat: Allah hu Akbar Allah hu Akbar as the Islamic Society of Annapolis and the Islamic Community Center of Laurel held a combined Eid salah.
The vast majority of the DC Metro celebrated Eid on the same day.
In his talk Imam Mikaeel Smith, the resident scholar at the Islamic Society of Annapolis, stated to the crowd of more than 3000 worshippers, “Our coming together here these two masjids is a call to true unity. Yes! “United we stand” is familiar to us all. But it is incomplete, we must in this day and age always beg to ask the question what exactly are we standing for?
The Quran states “Oh you who believe! Be of those persistently standing for justice, witnesses for Allah”. The Quran calls us to stand and be united, but let not that standing be in vain, let it not be according to our whims and desires but rather standing united for Allah on the way of the Prophet.”
The praying area for the men was in the field and the women were in the basketball court. Both masajid also held a smaller Eid prayer early in the day to accommodate those who had to go to their jobs on Eid day.
A special tent had been set up with tables and chairs for an extravagant breakfast. The tents were segregated in such a way that women were comfortable and could enjoy the Eid celebration in the privacy of a women-only section, away from the male gaze.
Those wanted to spend time with their entire family met up after the prayers away from the prayer area, where several icecream trucks were contracted to sell, keeping the attendees cool at the day got warmer.
Aminatu from Laurel, MD prayed that the Ummah increases in Maryland. She was dressed in her Eid best and the joy she felt in her heart in a big smile. Originally from Guinea, West Africa, in a regal boubou she sat with her family near the car parking after the prayers. They were taking family pictures.
Her sons were dressed in ethnic agbadas. Ahmadu had given all his eid money to donation box at the masjid entrance. “He copied me,” pointing to his younger brother. He was happy to know that he would be rewarded for his brother’s generosity too.
Local and international television stations could be seen interviewing attendees after the event.
“They served delicious food, all for free,” said an attendee who had never tasted the traditional Pakistani breakfast of halwa (sweetmeats), bread, Aloo Ki Katlian (spicy potato curry), chickpeas in sauce, and seviyan (vermicelli in sweet cream).
Goodybags filled with candy were handed out to the children and for adults there were packets of savories to enjoy on the drive back home.
The arrangement included support from the local police department and emergency services. A elderly woman passed out because of the sun but was quickly attended to by the ambulatory services.
Several volunteers helped cars park in an orderly manner.
Ishrat came to attend from Savage, MD said it was the most flavorful Eid the family had experienced in the US.
Some attendees from the ICCL community were upset that many did not calmly listen to the Eid Khutbah, which takes places after the salah. They are used to their congregation participating in the complete ritual and when people got up en masse after the two rakah to meet and greet and get in the shade, drowning out the voice of the khateeb, this bothered the worshippers.
Moina was visiting her sister from Nigeria. ‘This reminds me of Eid Salah at home,’ she shared and of performing Hajj with all the different races. She thoroughly enjoyed herself. Other newcomers to the area also found community on Eid day as they met new people and learned about Muslim resources in the area.
Imam Mikaeel said that the joint salah was a ‘a step closer to the sunnah of the Prophet and there lies much khair in this. It is a union, and unions are in this life always celebrated. Today it is two masjids, tomorrow four and then we are standing united.’
As the event came to a close, the words of the imam came to mind when he said celebrating, and happiness is deeply connected to the quality of thankfulness.
“For it is not a happy person who is thankful, but rather the thankful who are happy,” said Imam Mikaeel.
He reminded everyone that although Eid is a joyous occasion, ‘many of us are saddened today, we are saddened because we will miss the large crowds in the masjid, miss listening to the daily recitation of the Quran, miss the large number of brothers and sisters at fajr...we are saddened like Umm Ayman [was] at the time of the death of the Prophet. When Abu Bakr asked her why she was crying so much. She replied that she was crying because the wahi (revelation) would not becoming any more.’
“Oh Muslims of Maryland, [remember] what Abu Bakr said upon to demise of our beloved Prophet, when all the companions were in a bewildered shock: ‘Whosoever worships Muhammad, know that he has died. But whosoever worshiped Allah know that he ever-lives and will never die’,” extolled the imam.
He repeated ‘whosoever worshiped only because it is Ramadan know that Ramadan is gone and whosoever worshiped Allah know that Allah is ever present.’