Muslims from near and far come together for Eid in Abiquiu
More than 2 billion Muslims around the world celebrated Eid on May 2, marking the end of fasting for Ramadan. The gathering of family and friends is usually a dressed up festival of food, gifts and charitable donations to poor families. But for the past two years, Eid was celebrated mostly at home or in very small groups because of COVID restrictions.
This year, Muslim families from New Mexico and newly arrived refugees from Afghanistan gathered at the Dar al Islam mosque in Abiquiu for the first large Eid gathering since the beginning of the pandemic.
After two years of small, isolated Eid celebrations, 11 year old Hadiyyah Hadid was ready for a big party.
"I feel fantastic because it's just nice to have all of us together again, to have like a reunion, I guess," says Hadiyyah. "I think it's just really nice with all the Afghan refugees that are here now in order for them to have good Eid, to make it a big one and special for them for the first time out of Afghanistan."
Built in the early 1980’s by the Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, the gleaming white Dar al Islam mosque stands out in the northern New Mexico desert. The swooping adobe arches and intricately carved wooden doors of the almost 20,000-square-foot structure are unlike any other mosque in the world.
Fatima van Hattum grew up in the Muslim Abiquiu community, and many of the people who organized this Eid celebration are close childhood friends.
"Islam, it has always been a part of this place of New Mexico or at least since as long as there have been Europeans here, you know, and through colonization, they brought enslaved Muslims with them," explained Fatima. "And so the history of this country is intertwined with this. This isn't something that is exogenous to this place, it's not something that's foreign or external like is often framed politically. And now we're welcoming newcomers like our family from Afghanistan."
Abdul Wahiad, also known as Uncle Dumpling, came to New Mexico three months ago. A well known chef in Afghanistan and Iran, he now works at the prestigious Restaurant Martin in Santa Fe. He made hundreds of kebabs for the event. One of the event organizers, Jamsheid Hadid, translated for Uncle Dumpling, who speaks Dari.
Jamsheid Hadid translating for Wahiad in Dari: So this, I really enjoy it we come here to just help for all the other Muslims here and I just my experience because I'm as a chef in Afghanistan and I just cook some kebab for all we enjoy it all this friends in just the moments happiness.
Martha Yazdani said she enjoyed seeing the wide range of Muslims at the Eid, including African, Arab, European and Indian participants.
"It feels wonderful, it feels safe, and it feels like everyone's partaking of it," says Yazdani. "Everyone has a participating in some way whether it's contributing something or just being present, but everyone feels happy and safe."
Martha, who is Iranian and speaks Farsi, translated for Safa, who only gave her first name. She arrived in New Mexico from Afghanistan three months ago with her two sisters and her mother. Although the women are still in need of stable housing in Santa Fe, Safa said they feel at home in the landscape of New Mexico which is similar to the mountains of Afghanistan. She said Eid here is different than in Afghanistan, where there are fireworks and lots of family around, but she is excited to meet Muslims from around the world here and to have more freedom of movement as a woman.
Martha translating for Safa: "She said that I love to go to mosques. I love to go to mosque and to be with different Muslims and to pray together and to be in community together and today I got to do that… I know it makes me want to cry… she said it makes me so happy that I got to pray with fellow Muslims and to be in community."
Safa's sentiment moved Martha.
"I mean obviously it touches my heart because it's so special. Yeah, everyone should be able to." Martha says.
The vast communal spaces of the Dar al Islam mosque have been relatively empty for the past few years, but this diverse Eid celebration has ended that fast too.