FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- About 100 Muslim Soldiers gathered at the Joe E. Mann Center Sunday to celebrate Eid-Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.
"It's a great honor and privilege to do this," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad, U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, who presided over the ceremonial part of the celebration. "We want (the Soldiers) to be empowered through the spiritual foundation that Islam provides. Eid-Al-Fitr is a culmination of the fasting during the month of Ramadan. As a result of that, we do the celebration traditionally for three days, but the biggest (part) is this particular day."
The celebration began with a worship service consisting of prayers and a sermon.
"Typically, (Muslims) come to a mosque or a place of worship," Muhammad explained.
"It's not unusual for Muslims from various communities to come together, because during the Eid you want to have as many people together as possible. It's not -- in other words -- good for neighboring communities to have their own little Eids. They should come together in local mosques and have a central location for all the people to come together."
After the completion of the service, worshippers greeted each other with "Eid mubarak," which means "blessed Eid," and congratulated each other on the completion of Ramadan.
The formal part of the celebration was followed by a feast to mark the end of the fasting period.
"On Eid, you don't fast," Muhammad explained. "It's the only day during the year that it is prohibited to fast. ... You have to be in the spirit of socializing."
Muslim Soldiers have had the opportunity in previous years to celebrate Eid, but this year's celebration has been the biggest so far on Fort Jackson, Muhammad said.
"This is the first time -- on this large scale -- that we've had this many Soldiers and units participate at this level," he said.
Many of the Soldiers who attended originate from Middle Eastern countries and are training to become interpreters for the Army.
"When I came here, I was scared that we couldn't do our Muslim practice, but in basic training they told us we are allowed to fast during Ramadan," said one Soldier who chose not to be identified. "Yesterday, when I was training, (the drill sergeants) told me I was allowed to (participate) here, because I'm Muslim. ... I found there is a lot of freedom to practice my Eid here, especially in the Army. It's too easy. They make it too easy for me."
Also present were service members from other nations who are in training at Fort Jackson. Lt. Col. Tauqir Ahmed, who is serving in the Pakistani air force, has been on post since the beginning of Ramadan to attend classes at the Soldier Support Institute. Ahmed said he was grateful for the opportunity to practice his faith during his visit.
"(I am) highly impressed by the (leadership) and the chapel here looking after the Muslims. I was expecting a lot of difficulties and problems, but I don't face any," he said.
"I've written back to my family back home in Pakistan that I'm very comfortable and very happy."