Eid Celebrations Bring over 8000 Devout Muslims to Holiday Inn Skokie

Skokie IL: On Wednesday August 31,2011, Muslims from all over the metropolitan area joyfully bustled into the Holiday Inn, 5300 Touhy Ave, Skokie, IL to join in on the global celebrations of Eid Ul-Fitr. While there were various venues that held Eid prayers throughout the region, one of the largest turnouts was at the Holiday Inn. The block was quite a sight to passersby. Groups of individuals in vibrant Indian-Pakistani clothing flooded the parking lots as they made their way to the exquisite banquet hall to commemorate the glorious day.

As individuals worked through the crowded doorways, volunteers from Eid committee gathered funds to recover event expenses. Demonstrating true Islamic generosity, many emptied their pockets and purses into the collecting bins before taking their shoes off and heading into the prayer halls. Men and women continuously and open-heartedly made space for incoming members so everyone would be able to partake in the namaz.

Namaz was recited throughout the morning and afternoon to accommodate the 8,000 enthusiastic individuals in attendance. Despite the large masses, the Skokie Police, Holiday Inn Staff, and numerous volunteers were able to direct the crowds effortlessly and efficiently.

After the namaz, Hussain Kamani gave the khutbah (preaching on Islam) to the congregation about the blessed month of Ramadan and the significance of Eid. He spoke of the importance of looking back at all the achievements of the 30 days of fasting. 30 days of patience. 30 days of lengthy night prayers. 30 days of constant worship. 30 days filled with struggle to achieve Allah’s happiness and mercy. 30 days of spiritual energizing that will last for a whole year.

Allah The Almighty says in the Quran, “Is the reward of excellence anything but excellence in return? So which of the favors of your Lord will you deny? (55:60-61)” The justice and mercy of Allah promises the servant to be fully compensated for the struggles undertaken in this world. For those who strive in this world to serve the creator and the creation with sincerity, their true reward, which is eternal and beyond imagination, will be presented in the life after death. The great companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Abu Hurariah narrates from the Messenger, “Allah the exalted and
glorious said, ‘I have prepared for my pious servants which no eye has seen, and no ear has every heard, and no human heart has perceived but it is testified by the book of Allah.’ The Prophet (Peace be upon him) then recited, ‘No soul knows what comfort has been concealed from them as a reward for what they did (32:17).’” Sahih Muslim.

Allah The Almighty’s generosity is such that not only does he adorn a beautiful paradise for the believing people, but he also shows them, in this world, a small glimpse what has been prepared for them in the after life. An example of this can be seen in the life of the great saint Junaid Bagdadi (May Allah have mercy upon him). Junaid Bagdadi was a very famous and unbeatable wrestler of his time; so much so that the king had great pride over him. One day, the king hosted an open challenge for the people to come and defeat Junaid Bagdadi. For accomplishing this feat, the prize would be generous. Strong and powerful men came from all over the villages and towns to take up the challenge. Ladies and children gathered to watch the spectacle. One by one, every man fell to the ground like crumpled leaves falling from a tree; easily defeated by Junaid. Then, to the crowd’s astonishment, an old, weary and frail man entered the ring with the hope of fighting Junaid Bagdadi and taking home the money. People looked at this elderly man and laughed with great amusement. What chance did he ever have to defeat Junaid? Surely death would overtake him if he foolishly pursed this challenge! The audience
watched the old man come close to Junaid, almost nose to nose, and they held their breaths and prayed for the betterment of the old man. However, soon their eyes stood transfixed as the old man picked up and slammed Junaid Bagdadi to the ground in defeat. Their mouths dropped in shock as they witnessed the old man triumphly place his foot over the Junaid’s chest and claim victory. The old man had won. He defeated the undefeatable. He took home the prize money and with it, the fame and name that belonged to Junaid Bagdadi.

The crowd lost hope in their hero; the king exiled him and his career fell through the roof. Junaid Bagdadi sat and pondered that in one short moment, he lost everything that he worked for. How did it happen? Did he get scammed? Junaid recollected the events of the evening, when the old man came, nose to nose, and whispered to him, “Oh Junaid! You, I and everyone sitting here knows that I am not a fighter. Junaid, I have a wife and children to feed and I have nothing to give them. I am from the family of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and we cannot accept zakaat [alms]. Oh Junaid, for the sake of Allah, will you accept defeat and help feed the family of Rasullullah?” Without a doubt Junaid Bagdadi agreed and allowed the man to claim victory. But now, he sat and thought, “What if that man was a fraud? What if I gave up my glory to an old man who knew how to talk?” It was during this reflection that he fell asleep. While he slept, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) came to him in a dream and said, “Oh Junaid! What you have done today will not go forgotten. The
sacrifice you made for the sake of Allah and for helping my family will result in immense reward that you cannot even imagine. Allah will raise and elevate your status not only in this world, but in the hereafter as well. Your name will shine throughout history and you will be known and well respected. Trust that Allah loved your sacrifice and has accepted it.”

Today, hundreds of years after the passing of Junaid Bagdadi, Muslims know exactly who he was and the great man he became. After his name we do not say, “The heavy weight champion,” rather we say, “May Allah have Mercy Upon1.” Such was his sacrifice for the sake of Allah, and such was the reward Allah granted him.

So my dear brothers and sisters, we sit here today having completed an entire month of fasting and sacrifice solely for the sake of Allah. The reward from Allah in the hereafter is definite. Today’s gathering of Eid is to remind us of the gathering where Allah will truly reward us in Jannat-ul-Firdous. May Allah grant us with many joyous days in our lives and reunite us all in paradise. Eid Mubarak to all!

After the thought provoking khutbah, individuals began embracing one another to convey their congratulations on the blessed day of Eid. The entire hall was full of laughter and joy as people exited the hall to allow the next group of devotees in for namaz. Many gathered outside to converse with their fellow brothers and sisters. Suresh Bodiwala Chairman from Asian Media USA had an opportunity to discuss with Sher Rajput regarding his understanding of the Festival of Eid he said, “I think it is not just a celebration of the end of Ramadan in which Muslims fast for 30 days. It is more the end of a spiritual training period where we develop our godconsciousness, our taqwa, and we strengthen our beliefs in Islam by trying to fully understand the Quran. That is what the celebration of Eid is truly about in my opinion”.

The thousands that gathered at the Holiday Inn in Skokie made the message of Eid clear to all. It is simply about loving one another, offering friendship to fellow beings, and living in peace and harmony.

Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
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