Today (Tuesday 4 June) Muslims in Bedford and across the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr, celebrating the end of Ramadan – a month of fasting and religious reflection.
Community prayers took place in Bedford Park and Addison Park in Kempston this morning, with hundreds of members of the town’s Islamic community coming together to celebrate.
Around 700 men, women and children gathered in Bedford Park at the event which is now in its tenth year bringing together the diversity of Bedford Muslims from the four corners of the world.
“Eid is a celebration of the new calendar month, leaving Ramadan behind,” explained Noor D’Agostino, spokesperson for the Bedford Al Falaah Islamic Centre on Priory Street.
“Non-Muslims have a view that fasting is a penitence, but actually it’s seen as an opportunity to draw closer to God. It’s a month of intense prayer, reflection and socialisation.
“At our Mosque we held a community Iftar (daily meal at sunset during Ramadan) every single night, with 50 people coming most days, rising to around 150 at weekends.
“There’s a feeling of loss at the end of Ramadan, as it’s a month where the community spends a lot of time together.”
Among the 300+ women present we spoke to Tahmina Ajmal, a senior lecturer in engineering at the University of Bedfordshire. She and her sister (a doctor) had taken the day off work to take part in the celebrations.
“Eid is a time to spend with family and friends,” said Tahmina. “There’s a lot of food, friends come to visit and we’ll have an open house.”
“It means a lot as a Muslim to come together for Eid,” said Sharifa Msomi. “We pray, raise money for charity and the kids look forward to it.”
The sermon at today’s prayers was given by Imam Abdur Rahman, a visiting preacher from a Mosque in East London. “Today is about thanking God for giving us the opportunity to complete the blessed month of Ramadan,” he said.
Asked about the role of an Imam, he said: “It’s like being a doctor of the heart; guiding towards what’s upright.”
One of the five pillars of Islam is charitable giving, and some of the focus of the event was on fund-raising to establish a Masjid at the Bedford Islamic Centre.
All donations welcome to the following account: 22663023 sort code: 40-10-02
To continue the celebrations, the multi-faith Eid in Bedford festival takes place in Addison Park, Kempston on Sunday 16 June from midday. Everyone is welcome.