‘All together, looking beautiful’: Scenes from Eid al-Fitr in Bed-Stuy

Wearing their finest outfits, the women came with hennaed hands, draped in gold jewelry, long colorful skirts fluttering with the breeze. The men wore white turbans and other colorful traditional garb. Muslims from across the borough and beyond arrived to the loudspeakers booming the revered words “Allah al Akbar,” God is great, and converged at the Masjid at Taqwa in Bed-Stuy.

With an 8:30 a.m. start time, worshippers stretched an entire city block, crowding onto the sidewalks for Islam’s most holy day, Eid al-Fitr, the day that concludes the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the lunar month when devotees fast from dawn until dusk.

Families arrive for the Eid al-Fitr prayer (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

“Eid, it means so much after a long month of fasting and doing our religious duties,” Tatyanna Nedd, a 35-year-old from Brownsville, told Brooklyn Magazine. “We are coming together as a family and a community and celebrating this holy month.”
In fact, people of all ages stressed the aspect of community on this day. “I came here because I come every year, to be around my real Muslim family,” said Aliyah Johnson, 18, a student.

Aliyah Johnson, 18, poses for a photo (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

“I’m here to celebrate my people,” said Shakina Forbes, a 29-year-old security guard. “We’re here, all together, looking beautiful.”

Every year the Masjid at Taqwa mosque hosts an Eid prayer that spills into the street, shutting down Fulton Street from Bedford to Franklin Avenues to allow for the crowds of people who will pray. An important mainstay in the African-American and African community, the Masjid At Taqwa (taqwa meaning God fearing) incorporated in 1981, after which the founders bought a vacant property to build it. It has stood as a beacon to the Muslim faith for the last 42 years.

Photo by Stephanie Keith

“The block is almost all Black-owned businesses and there’s just a sense of community and togetherness and power that people want to come and support,” said Muhammad Abdul Nur Jr., 29, a photographer for Amazon who has been coming to the mosque for 20 years.

Prayer time in Bed-Stuy (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

The mosque has seen the neighborhood change significantly from the days of the crack epidemic back in the 1980s and is today weathering the changes brought by gentrification and the recent influx of migrants. This year, there were more people participating in the prayer than ever before due to the increased presence of African migrants, most of whom are Muslim and for whom the mosque has been providing an Iftar meal every night during Ramadan. Many of the Black- and African-owned businesses have been pitching in to help these recent arrivals.

A group of men from the Sudan pose on the sidewalk (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

“I think it’s great that the mosque is helping the migrants such as giving them their basic essential needs and you know everyone looks out for each other here,” said Rayhanah Alhanafi, who recently moved to Baltimore, but came back for the occasion. “That’s what the blessing of Islam is, you love your sisters and your brothers in Islam.”

As if to echo the sentiment, Exlico Dekattu, 60, who was born and raised a few blocks away and has been coming to the mosque for 25 years, was beaming with is 1-year-old son in his arms. “I’m happy, I’m happier than having 1 million dollars.”

Exlico Dekattu, 60, his son Exlico Amir and Yoeannah Ambrose, 37, socialize after (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

Here are a few more scenes from the day.

The sidewalks filled with the faithful (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

The women’s section during prayer (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

Photo by Stephanie Keith

Photo by Stephanie Keith

A man stands outside while congregants eat at a nearby restaurant after prayer (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

The streets were closed to make room for praying (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

The post ‘All together, looking beautiful’: Scenes from Eid al-Fitr in Bed-Stuy appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine.

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