Local News

Fullerton Muslims Celebrate Ramadan

You may have read about Easter, Passover, and Ramadan converging on the same day on April 17 for the first time in 30 years. While the former two holidays are well known in our community, the latter may be unfamiliar to many.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a period of 29-30 days, depending on the lunar calculations, during which Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Giving up mainly food and water, Muslims focus on prayers, recitation of the Quran, charity, good deeds, and connecting with their community. To celebrate the end of this holy month, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

Family seated at an April 25 fundraising iftar at the Fullerton Community Center. Photo by Yahya Dawood.

What is Eid al-Fitr?

President of the Islamic Center of Fullerton’s Board (ICOF hereafter), Mohammad Raghib, explained that in Arabic Eid al-Fitr literally translates to “Festival of the Breaking Fast.” “Eid al-Fitr is the first of the two Eids we celebrate, wearing new clothes, decorating our houses, and doing extra prayers,” Raghib said. “We do these extra prayers in the morning of Eid to thank God for the opportunity given to us to celebrate. Meals are shared and kids get money so they can buy themselves gifts. Different cultures have minor differences, but mostly they’re the same activities.” Eid al-Fitr is celebrated for three days, although the first day is the most important.

When is Eid al-Fitr?

When to celebrate Eid al-Fitr is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar called the ‘Hijri’ calendar. President Raghib explained that ICOF and other mosques within California follow the date given by the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. In 2022, Muslims in California will be celebrating Eid al-Fitr on Monday, May 2.

How do Muslims in Fullerton celebrate Eid al-Fitr?

Muslims in Fullerton attend the Eid prayers set up by ICOF or other mosques in neighboring cities. Since ICOF is located in a small, rented space, they usually organize the Eid prayers in other locations. The pandemic made it difficult to conduct these prayers, which caused ICOF to not organize any in 2020, however, the St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church welcomed ICOF to host prayers on their church grounds in 2021. The Fullerton Observer covered this historic moment of interfaith solidarity: https://fullertonobserver.com/2021/05/15/a-historic-moment-of-interfaith-solidarity/.

ICOF also hosts an Eid picnic, this year on Sunday, May 15. Families enjoy barbeque together and kids play games.

What is ICOF?

The Islamic Center of Fullerton, formerly known as the Vietnamese Muslim Community, is located on West Valencia Drive, within walking distance from the Fullerton Train Station. This is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that strives to serve the Muslim community of Fullerton and provide educational, prayer, and community services. ICOF has been in this facility for the last 20 years, with now plans to relocate. President Raghib said, “The land to build the mosque has been acquired and the construction plans have been completed.”

Yusef Sindha, a student from Chino Hills, leads prayers at an April 25 fundraising event at the Fullerton Community Center for the ICOF. Photo by Yahya Dawood.

The construction costs have doubled due to inflation, leading to a temporary halt and pushing the date for the completion from the end of 2022 to mid-2023. President Raghib shared ICOF’s vision of creating a mosque that is self-sufficient, not donation based. The two-story building to be constructed will house a retail shopping center on the first floor, the rent of which will help run the second floor, which will house the prayer rooms and some classrooms for afterschool activities.