Thousands celebrate the end of Ramadan in downtown Dallas


Muslims break fast worldwide after Ramadan as Eid al-Fitr festival gets underway

eid in dallas

Muslims Prayer in Eid

dallas conv

Dallas Convention Center

About 20,000 Muslims united in downtown Dallas on Sunday morning to pray and celebrate the end of Ramadan. At the Dallas Convention Center, an imam, shown on large screens, repeatedly sang out “Allahu Akbar,” which means “God is the greatest,” to start the prayers.

Number of Muslims in Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is about 150,000

Staff Writer
Published: 19 August 2012 10:33 PM
Updated: 19 August 2012 10:33 PM

During the month of Ramadan, Tasnim McCormick Benhalim looked inward. She fasted for about 14 hours each day. She reflected. She tried to better herself.

But on Sunday, she celebrated what she had achieved. The sixth generation Texan and convert to Islam ate scones for breakfast. She attended a party with authentic Libyan food at her in-laws′ house. And she exchanged gifts with loved ones.

“Ramadan has always been, for me, an inward journey,” said Benhalim, 60. “Eid is like the expansion. You re-enter into the world again.”

Benhalim and about 20,000 other Muslims gathered in downtown Dallas on Sunday morning to pray, greet one another and celebrate the end of Ramadan. The holiday, traditionally called “eid,” marked the end of a month of fasting for Muslims across the world.

At the Dallas Convention Center, thousands filled a large hall where the Islamic Association of North Texas put on a prayer and sermon for Muslims across the area. Many women filed in wearing vibrant, embellished clothing, and some men wore outfits traditional to their native countries′ culture. The imam, shown on large screens at the front of the hall, repeatedly sang out “Allahu Akbar,” which means “God is the greatest,” to start the prayers.

Benhalim and her family had come to pray after eating the first of many meals for the day. They had decorated their Richardson home with lights and signs celebrating the eid. The night before, Benhalim′s daughter, Rabea, finished reading the entire Quran in Arabic just in time for Ramadan′s end.

Rabea, 29, said the holiday can be bittersweet.

“Ramadan is like your grandmother who you totally love and adore, but she′s slightly annoying,” she said.

When the grandmother stays at your house, she disrupts your life. But when she leaves, it′s sad because she won′t be back for another year, Rabea said.

Benhalim, who converted from Christianity 35 years ago, said she will miss the awareness Ramadan brings.

“My God, when you [abstain from] food and water and you′re hungry and thirsty, you remember that there are people struggling,” she said.

Fatima Al-Mulla, who is from Qatar, celebrated her first eid in the United States with the Benhalims this weekend. She moved to Houston in January to work for Exxon Mobil as an engineer.

Al-Mulla, 25, was struck by the multicultural congregation and the number of women who came out to pray at the convention center. In Qatar, she said, women typically prefer to pray at home.

“It′s an open place for everyone [here],” she said.

While Muslims in the United States celebrate the holiday by exchanging gifts, children in Qatar dress up and go door-to-door singing, Al-Mulla said. It is like Halloween, except people give kids money instead of sweets, she said.

Some said they have tried to hold on to traditions from their native countries.

Mohiudin Zeb, who is from Pakistan and now lives in Rockwall, planned to eat a meal of meat, curry, kebabs and a rice dish to celebrate the holiday. Zeb, 64, wore a long black vest over his white button up and white pants, which he called a traditional Pakistani outfit.

He pointed out different traditional garb as his fellow Muslims walked by.

“The United States is a diversified culture. We can be a part of that,” he said. �[The holiday] brings the community together.”