ORONO, Maine — The Eid al-Fitr celebrated Tuesday at the Islamic Center of Maine was a kind of graduation from the fasting of Ramadan, Dr. Mohammad Mir told the nearly 200 adults and children gathered for prayers and feasting.
“Many of you may be feeling that you did not do as well as you should have,” he said during his sermon. “You may have a feeling of being imperfect, but that is part of this day too. Ramadan makes us more aware.”
Ramadan is the ninth month of the year for followers of Muhammad, who observe a lunar calendar. The holiday takes place 13 days earlier each year on the solar calendar. This year, Ramadan began at sunrise Aug. 1 and ended with the sighting of the new moon Monday night.
“Ramadan is training for the rest of the year,” Dr. Tarek Elkadi of Brewer said after the service. “It is not just about fasting from food and drink, it is a constant reminder of Allah.”
Elkadi is an anesthesiologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor and vice president of the mosque.
During Ramadan, all healthy adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual activity from sunrise to sunset. The month is to be devoted to reflection and spiritual discipline, as well as the reading of the Quran, which was revealed to the prophet Muhammad by Allah during the final days of Ramadan.
Followers also are expected to perform good deeds and pray more often than the usual five times a day, including each evening in a mosque with other Muslims if possible.
“People think Ramadan is a hunger strike, but it is not and fasting is not the most difficult part of Ramadan,” Mir, of Orono, said after the service marking the end of what is one of the five pillars of his faith. “Exerting self control over our feelings is the most difficult — Seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil is the hardest.”
Mir, a hematologist at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, has lived in Maine for three years. He is a lay leader at the mosque on Park Street in Orono.
For Asiya Sbayai, 17, of Lincoln, Ramadan was a bit less difficult this year because it fell entirely during the summer before classes begin at Mattanawcook Academy on Sept. 7.
“We would wake up early and have breakfast before dawn,” she said. “We could come down to the mosque more often than when we’re in school. We had a lot more family time and that was nice.”
During his sermon, Mir made a subtle reference to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He urged his fellow Muslims to be welcoming to people and show them “the real face of Islam.”
“Islam today is a diamond in the dust,” he said. “It is your job and my job to dust it off, to clean off that diamond and show people the beautiful face of Islam.”
Mir said that Mainers have shown a great interest in learning about the faith.
“When we had our open house last year, we ran out of chairs, so many people came,” he said. “People great us with open arms. Maine is one of the best places to be.”
Teachings of Islam
The five major teachings, or pillars, of Islam are:
• Shahada, belief in and recitation of the profession of faith, “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is the prophet of Allah.”
• Salat, prayer offered while facing Mecca five times a day — at sunrise, midday, midafternoon, sunset and before going to bed.
• Sawm, fasting during Ramadan, the month when the Quran was revealed to Mohammed.
• Zakat, contributing financially to the Muslim community, similar to tithing in some Christian denominations.
• Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in each Muslim’s lifetime, if physically and financially possible.