Valley Stream’s growing Muslim population celebrated the end of Ramadan, the holy month during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, with several celebrations over the course of the week.
On June 13, women and children gathered at Masjid Hamza to prepare for Eid ul-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. They got henna tattoos and made crafts. “The masjid is just one place where everyone comes under one roof,” said Ruhee Kapadia, the sister coordinator for the masjid.
This was the first year that the masjid held an event to prepare for Eid, Kapadia said, because the Muslim population in Valley Stream is growing.
In the 1970s and 80s, Muslims gathered in basements of halal meat shops to pray, according to Deputy Commanding Officer of the Valley Stream Auxiliary Police Rashid Khan, who has been living in Valley Stream since 1979. Ten years later, a group of Muslims bought out two houses on Stuart Avenue to build Masjid Hamza. The mosque has grown since then, and mosque officials recently bought two more houses behind the property to expand it.
“There was a demand for this,” Kapadia said, adding that one young girl was studying for her Regents examinations as she was getting a henna tattoo for the holiday.
Unaiza Aslam agreed that it was important for the mosque to hold an event to prepare for Eid. She said that her children “see so many other things on TV, they see all the other holidays,” so “it’s important to let them know they have their own holiday.”
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are supposed to give to charity and reflect on those that are less fortunate, according to Matthew Khan, who works in the Village of Valley Stream’s Recreation Department. Then, when a new moon can be spotted in the night sky at the end of the month, Muslims gather together and feast.
To do so, Khan worked with village officials to organize an Eid ul-Fitr celebration at the Valley Stream Community Center on June 16. Mayor Ed Fare said that the celebration was a way to recognize another religion that is prevalent in the village, in the same way that the village has Christmas tree and menorah lightings.
“We want to honor and respect these diverse traditions and embrace them,” Fare said. “It’s all helping the village, which is what matters to me most.”
More than 500 Muslims from the Valley Stream area went to the celebration, and the Community Center even ran out of food. The children also played in the park after they ate.
“It seems like everyone’s having a great time,” Ahsan Syed, the president of Masjid Hamza, said at the celebration.
Several Muslims, such as Farrah Mozawalla, also said that they were happy that the village held an event for Valley Stream’s Muslim population. “It’s showing that the community cares about us, that we’re included in the fabric of Valley Stream,” she said. “So it’s really important for the [Muslim] community to know that they’re wanted.”
Ramadan will be held again next year from May 5 to June 4 or 5 depending on when the new moon can be seen in the night sky.