Pine Belt Muslims celebrate end of Ramadan with prayer services CALLING FOR ‘PEACE, UNDERSTANDING, and KINDNESS’

By DAVID GUSTAFSON,

More than 150 Pine Belt-area Muslims gathered in downtown Hattiesburg early Tuesday morning to celebrate the Eid Al-Fitr holiday – marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community for Islamic faithful throughout the world.

Led by longtime downtown merchant Jerry Buti, the prayer service lasted about an hour and was followed by a celebratory feast of traditional Islamic dishes as well as plenty of non-traditional (and tasty) sweet treats.

Prior to the service, a special offering was taken up to support the less fortunate, which is one of the practiced five pillars of the Islamic faith.

Like Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr begins with the first sighting of the new moon, so most Muslims typically have to wait until the night before Eid to verify its date and it varies from country to country depending on its geographical location.

Muslims across the world begin Eid celebrations by partaking in communal dawn prayers, followed by a short sermon, which was given by Buti.

“Love one another,” he said. “Celebrate your brothers and sisters and cherish the time you have with one another. Bite your tongue. Extend your hand. Help one another. Let us all remember why we were put on this Earth.”

Buti, who has owned Go Young Fashions in downtown Hattiesburg for decades, helped organize the event, which was well attended.

Traditionally, the prayers take place in mosques or large halls, in many countries it is also held in the open.

Here, it was held at the Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center.

After the service, attendees greeted one another with hugs and handshakes as they shared the traditional greeting of “Eid Mubarak,” which translates to "Blessed Eid" in Arabic.

PREP SPORTS: