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Muslim center plans Eid prayer at IS 145 in Jax Hts

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The Muhammadi Community Center of Jackson Heights announced Friday it will be celebrating Eid ul-Fitr at IS 145 near the end of August. The center’s imam, Mohd Qayyoom, said he expects 20,000 people to attend the annual celebration, which marks the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting for Muslims.

“It is a prayer for interfaith harmony and peace,” Qayyoom said of Eid.

Qayyoom and other members of his group, Interfaith Harmony World Peace, met at Khaabar Baari Restaurant, at 37-22 73rd St. in Jackson Heights, to announce the event. Qaayyoom’s mosque held an Eid prayer last year at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, but the Eid prayer is traditionally supposed to be held in a large open field, necessitating the change of venue to the track at IS 145, at 33-34 79th St. in Jackson Heights. A field used for an Eid prayer is known as an Eidgah.

“Prophet Muhammad, he used to take people into the field, men, women and children,” Qaayyoom said.

In accordance with the Muslim religion’s calendar, where the months are marked out according to the cycles of the moon, Ramadan will be held beginning Aug. 1 this year. Ramadan is made up of 30 days when Muslims fast during the day — not eating, drinking or speaking ill of others. The day of Eid is a celebration that the fast is complete, marked with singing, dancing, games and people coming together to wish each other well.

“One month of fasting is not easy,” Qayyoom said.

Eid is expected to occur Aug. 31, although it could be Aug. 30 depending on whether or not the moon is visible. Prayers will be held at IS 145 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Qayyoom said. Since the field is not expected to hold the large number of people Qayyoom predicts will come, prayers will be held in shifts.

Qayyoom, who began his mosque in part to speak out against terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said he wants the community to come together for Eid and promote a message of peace, harmony and understanding.

Other members of the Interfaith Harmony World Peace group agreed.

“We hope to promote peace,” said Queens County Supreme Court Judge Thomas Raffaele, president of the Ethical Humanist Society of Queens. “We hope to promote responsibility for each other and understanding of each other.”

The large public prayer has also earned the support of members of the business community. Rashed Ahammed, of the Jackson Heights Bangladeshi Association, and Eduardo Giraldo, of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens, came out in support of the event.

“I think it’s important what we’re doing,” Giraldo said. “We’re one community.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 11:59 am, October 12, 2011
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