Thousands in Lincoln celebrate Eid al-Fitr, end of Ramadan & Fasting

April 21, 2023, 4 p.m. ·

Thousands of people celebrate Eid al-Fitr at the Speedway Village in Lincoln.
Thousands of people celebrate Eid al-Fitr at the Speedway Village in Lincoln. (Photo by Aaron Bonderson, Nebraska Public Media)

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Updated: April 24, 2023

Self-control, love and forgiveness are just a few of the virtues discussed at Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday. About 2,000 people gathered in the early morning in southwest Lincoln on Friday.

Fasting, not drinking, and refraining from indulgences during sunlight hours are all a part of the month of Ramadan — which comes to a close during Eid al-Fitr. The day is celebrated by about 2 billion people worldwide.

For local Nebraskans and members of the Islamic Foundation of Lincoln, many rediscovered the most important things in life during Ramadan, like Abdullah Hamad. Hamad said he learned a lot about patience.

“I feel like sometimes we get angry at things when we don't really need to,” Hamad said. “It's not needed. So it's always kind of better to approach things in a calm and peaceful manner.”

The large group came together in celebration at Speedway Village. Hamad said Eid al-Fitr is also a great opportunity to see old friends.

“People are busy throughout the year, especially in the month of Ramadan, because a lot of people are trying to do a lot more acts of worship and get closer and closer to God, and really increase their spirituality,” Hamad said.

“And then, on Eid al-Fitr you see everybody, people that you haven't seen for a while. They all come together. You see everybody,” Hamad said. “When you haven't seen somebody for a while, you see them. Then, there's that beautiful moment where you're meeting them. You're catching up with them. It's very, very nice.”

Many others also said Eid al-Fitr is about spending time with loved ones.

“I feel appreciated by God and by my peers around me, with the hugging and the handshakes,” Randy Talat said.

Talat said he also enjoys candy at Eid al-Fitr festivities — something that he stops eating for Ramadan.

“One of those chocolate crunchy things. What are those with the gold wrappers? … Ferrero Rocher's! And then personally I like Reese's, like I'll go crazy on a bag of Reese's,” Talat said.

After going one month without sweets, Talat said he feels validated on Eid al-Fitr for his efforts over the month of Ramadan.

Fasting and not drinking during the day for one month can be strenuous, especially for student-athletes, Zohaid Shaikh said. Shaikh is a senior track, cross country, and wrestling athlete at Lincoln High School.

He said there isn’t much exposure about the effects of fasting on athletes. So Shaikh created a guide for Muslim athletes and any other people who fast.

“It takes athletes step-by-step on how to consume enough vitamins, get the protein and carbohydrates that they need, in order to at least sustain their physical activity,” Shaikh said.

“The best method I found so far is to blend a smoothie. Just grab some canned fruits, fresh fruits, if you can, and then put them in a blender,” he said. “My go-to smoothie is strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, with an orange juice base and some ice.”

Shaikh designed the guide for him and his friends — not for any one class. He plans to continue his research on the side while he studies computer science at Princeton or the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

As far as the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, many families will eat a meal together and pass out candy, after the morning service and prayers.

In the meantime, the Islamic Foundation of Lincoln prepares to fully move into a new mosque in the coming weeks.

Islamic Foundation of Lincoln's Imam, or worship services leader, talks to everyone at the service.
Islamic Foundation of Lincoln's Imam, or worship services leader, reads his notes and preaches his sermon at the Eid al-Fitr service. (Photo by Aaron Bonderson, Nebraska Public Media)
People pray on Eid al-Fitr in Lincoln.
People pray on Eid al-Fitr in Lincoln. (Photo by Aaron Bonderson, Nebraska Public Media)