CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Several hundred coalition service members and local nationals gathered together in front of a chapel aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, to participate in Eid ul-Fitr, Aug. 30.
Eid ul-Fitr is the Islamic holiday which marks the completion of the month of Ramadan, which is observed by Muslims all over the world as a time to refocus attention on God. During this month, Muslims abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during daylight hours.
Eid is celebrated for one to three days. Usually, Muslims will wake up before the sun rises to offer prayer. The prayer is performed in congregation in open areas such as fields or mosques. Following the prayer is a sermon given by an Imam, which is the Muslim equivalent of a priest.
Capt. Syed Rashid, a CH-53E helicopter pilot with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), was in attendance during the prayer and sermon. Rashid, a native of Houston, had spent the past month taking part in the fast during the day while flying general support missions for the squadron throughout Helmand province.
“I got to give it to my squadron mates – every last one of them has supported me,” said Rashid. “It’s been tough. Long days, hot weather, long missions, but at the end of the day it’s been a privilege to serve my country, but before that my God.”
With the arrival of Eid ul-Fitr, which is a combination of two Arabic words meaning “festival” and “breaking of the fast”, Muslims no longer have to fast during the daylight hours. Rashid was more than elated that this marker had been reached.
“I plan on going over there to [Dinning Facility] 2 and tearing it up!” he exclaimed, while pointing to the chow hall located just down the road from the chapel.
Lt. Asif Balbale, who is one of three Muslim chaplains in the Navy’s chaplains corps, delivered the sermon. Balbale said he hopes that the same spirit exhibited during Ramadan is continued throughout the rest of the year.
“I hope Muslims across the world have taken advantage of Ramadan,” said Balbale. “I congratulate them on this joyous occasion. Eid Mubarak [Blessed Eid] to everybody across the world. Stay united in the good and stand against the evil. That’s what Islam is about and that’s what we Muslims should be doing.”