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Friday, June 15, Muslims celebrated the holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Muslims in Kingsbridge and its surrounding neighborhoods in the Bronx came together early Friday morning to partake in Eid prayer, congregating in the southern portion of Van Cortlandt Park.
Eid al-Fitr concludes the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn to sunset each day. Ramadan, a month of prayer, meditation and ritual devotion, also provides a context for communal gathering at events such as iftar, the daily breaking of the fast, and taraweeh, the nightly communal prayer. Fasting during the month constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam. Eid marks the beginning of Shawwal, the following month in the Islamic calendar.
Attendees, who woke up early to prepare themselves and dress for the occasion, came from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. Attired in their finest clothing, some wore traditional and Islamic wear, while others opted for blazers and dress shirts.
In Islamic belief, it is every Muslim’s duty to give charitable contributions, called zakat, on Eid, if one has the means to do so. The prayer was organized and hosted by the local mosque, the Abrar, which facilitated accepting these donations.
The Abrar also sought donations to secure the property at which it is currently located. Formerly located at Godwin Terrace in Kingsbridge, the Abrar was forced out of the location because of rent hikes. The congregation was able to rent out the basement of the Church of the Mediator, located on West 231st Street, as a temporary space. Although the Abrar initially offered a weekend school for children in the community, which comprised nearly 300 families as of 2015, they were unable to continue doing so after being forced out of Godwin Terrace.
In late 2017, the congregation was able to find a permanent home, at 3016 Bailey Ave. However, the community’s work is not yet done. At Eid prayer, the congregation was reminded of the importance of having a home for the local community. Although the mosque was able to finance the down payment and move into the space, a large sum of money is needed to pay off the mortgage, and it comes mostly from the congregation’s own pockets.
Although the future of 3016 Bailey Ave. is uncertain, one thing is certain—the congregation, as they have done in the past, will persevere, with or without a space of their own.