tampabay.com

Fasting ends but charity, goodwill continue

Muslims everywhere celebrate the end of Ramadan with a three-day feast.

By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
Published November 3, 2005


During the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Buba Barrow felt the hunger of the less fortunate. He learned to be compassionate and stave off cravings for bread, water and even sensual pleasure.

"No eat, no food, no nothing. For a whole day. From dawn to dusk," said Barrow, 48, owner of a St. Petersburg construction company.

But on Thursday morning, least 400 Muslims gathered at Forbes Recreation Center in Pinellas Park to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, the three-day feast marking the end of Ramadan. Barrow came with his wife Mariam and two young daughters, all dressed in their finest white garments.

Last year the group prayer was held on a baseball field at nearby Helen Howarth Park, when during the middle of worship the clouds shifted. Rain poured and everyone was soaked, said Munaf Kapadi, an organizer with the Islamic Society of Pinellas County. But they kept on praying.

Thursday's sermon reminded followers of Allah's command to stick to the right path. Women stayed at the back of the gymnasium, wearing Islamic veils over bowed heads so "men can concentrate on the prayer," said Omar Abdul-Shakir of St. Petersburg.

Tariq Toubeh, 27, wore brand new clothes for the occasion, choosing a yellow plaid shirt with black pants. Islamic tradition, he said, called for it: "Look your best, show your happiness."

Abdul-Shakir calls himself a former "heretic," raised in a Protestant household where his parents disallowed him from questioning their faith. Then, at age 39, he met a group of Muslims who answered all his questions, said Abdul-Shakir. Now he celebrates another end of Ramadan.

"The fasting stops, but the charity and the goodwill and good deeds to each other must continue," he said.