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Muslims celebrate end of Ramadan

Principal Imam Sheik Jamal Saied leads Eid prayers marking  end Ramadan ToyotPark stadium accommodate nearly 15000 or so attendance

Principal Imam Sheik Jamal Saied leads the Eid prayers, marking the end of Ramadan, in Toyota Park stadium to accommodate the nearly 15,000 or so in attendance in Bridgeview, IL on Tuesday August 30, 2011 | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 31, 2011 12:00PM

Amera Rabah said the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is “a beautiful month.”

But that doesn’t mean the Oak Lawn woman doesn’t look forward to the day it ends.

Rabah and thousands of others filled Toyota Park on Bridgeview on Tuesday to pray and then take part in Eid, a celebration that marks the end of the Muslim month of fasting.

During Ramadan, which lasts for 29 or 30 days depending on the lunar cycle, Muslims around the world fast from dawn to sunset. They refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations. This year, because Ramadan fell during the summer with its longer days, the fasting periods also were longer.

“It’s very challenging,” said Rabah, 24, who said she has been participating since she was 7. “Some years are more challenging than others. But that is the whole point of the month, to see what you would sacrifice.”

And the point of Eid is to celebrate after the sacrifices.

“This is the day we wait for (during) the whole month of Ramadan,” she said.

Aligning the outer walls of Toyota Park was a strip of people selling food, clothing, flags and more. There were carnival rides and jump houses for the kids.

Hisham Jaber said he traveled all the way from Peoria with his entire family to celebrate Eid. As they headed into the park, he said the family would pray and “cap off the month of soul-searching and getting closer to God.”

Seham Abdalla, of Oak Lawn, said the month of Ramadan and making sacrifices is not hard for her because she waits for it all year long.

“All year you eat, eat and eat, and this month you make your tummy rest,” Abdalla said.

Abdalla, who is originally from Egypt, said fasting is a way of feeling how a poor person feels.

Naeem Sharif, of Burbank, said Ramadan is about “discipline and sacrifice.”

“Today is a very holy day,” Sharif said. “It is to celebrate the ending of our fasting and a family get-together.”

Faris Hass helped organize the event and worked closely with the Mosque Foundation, an organization formed in 1954 to serve the religious needs of Muslims on Chicago’s South Side and in the south and southwest suburbs. Hass said he expected about 20,000 people at Toyota Park to participate in the group prayer and celebration.

After the group prayer, family members visited with each other and children took in the carnival rides and jump houses.

“Everyone enjoys themselves,” Hass said of the Eid celebration. “It’s peaceful; it’s fun.”

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