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Area Muslims come together to celebrate

By Yaqoob Malik

Yaqoob Malik is in Charleston as part of a U.S.-Pakistan partnership program arranged by the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C.

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As in other parts of the world, the local Muslim community celebrated Eidul Azha at the Islamic Center in South Charleston on Tuesday.

The main Eid congregation drew as many as 600 people to the mosque, including people originally from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The people, especially the women and children, wore beautiful, colorful clothes for the Eid's occasion, as most were in their national dress, giving a cultural look from the respective Muslim countries.

Speaking on the occasion, the Imam -- Ehteshamul Haque, who is from India and has been here since 2008 -- stressed upon the faithful to follow the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim A.S, as he had performed some 4,000 years ago. Such sacrifice is the way you can achieve any goal in every field of life, he said.

Muslims celebrate two Eid festivals in a year: one is Eidul Fitar, which is held soon after Ramadan, and then Eidul Azha after the Hajj, in which Muslims slaughter animals to commemorate and recognize the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim, the Imam informed.

The Imam described Hazrat Ibrahim A.S as a strong, polite and caring person who commands respect of the followers of other religions. Ibrahim is known as Abraham in the Old Testament.

"So, we should all follow the teaching and unique philosophy of Hazrat Ibrahim A.S to become successful in all manners," he stressed.

Under these teachings, the people should serve humanity and act in the society with sincerity, devotion, commitment and Akhlaz (good intentions) to get the mercy of God and should avoid sins and discourage evilness, he urged.

Otherwise they cannot become successful and strong person in the world, he cautioned.

He also lauded the interfaith harmony among the local Muslim community and people of other religions.

" ... The religion of Islam teaches us to promote interfaith harmony, maintain peace, justice, serve humanity and for other noble causes," the imam added.

  After the address, the Imam Haque offered Eid's Khutbah [sermon] and final collective prayer, in which he prayed for the establishment of peace, harmony and prosperity in all Muslim countries, the United States and the local area.

Afterward, people exchanged Eid greeting and embraced enthusiastically before attending the Eid lunch.

Imam Haque said following the celebration that there are about 180 to 200 families in the local Muslim community. He said the Islamic Center in South Charleston was established in 1987.

There are five such locations the state, he said.

"It is very appreciating and fantastic that Muslim of all sects including Shia, Sunni and whatsoever perform Namaz [prayer] under the auspices of one imam [prayer leader] with unity and brotherhood," he said.

After performing Eid's prayer, the people went to farms outside Charleston to slaughter goats and lambs, which also gives a boost to the business of such farms, he said.

"Our major focus on strengthening the interfaith harmony is a must for any strong and united society," he said.

For this purpose, the center holds meetings with religious leaders, academics and other people representing Christianity, Judaism and Hindu faiths besides attending religious festivals.

He said about 200 students attend school at the Islamic Center, where they learn from the Quran, besides getting an education of sciences and history, etc., in morning and evening classes.


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