Men and women, many of them wearing the traditional dress of Pakistan, chatted amiably in the parking lot Sunday after having coffee and doughnuts. The children, some licking ice cream cones they got for free from an ice cream truck in the lot, scampered about outside Masjid Darul Qur'an, The Muslim Center of Long Island, in Bay Shore.
The festive scene marked the end of Ramadan, the monthlong period of fasting that concluded Saturday evening.
The joyous celebration, known as Eid ul-Fitr, is a time for sharing with family and friends and helping those in need, as well as giving to "the House of God," said Athar Suhail, president of the mosque.
Three worship services Sunday attracted about 2,000 people to the mosque, which was founded in 1989, Suhail said. A new building was erected in 2003.
"Everything started with the name of God," said Syed Aziz of Deer Park, who attended a service with his son, Omar, and neighbors, Raza and Riasa Mian.
"It's a happy occasion," Suhail said of the Eid ul-Fitr holiday. "People assist each other, exchange gifts, invite each other over for food, take the children to different play places." He said a mosque member sponsored 150 children from mosques throughout the area Sunday at Adventureland in Farmingdale.
Suhail explained that fasting during Ramadan from dawn to dusk is a time for getting closer to God.
"Fasting is not only of the food," said Suhail. "You should be more concentrating on the faith and trying to get closer to your Creator." It is a period that inspires the faithful "to do the good things," he added.
Omar Aziz, 16, said fasting creates an opportunity "to learn about how people suffer," and about "giving up your pleasures to take on hardship." It also is a time to "ask for forgiveness and do good deeds," he said.
Each evening during Ramadan, Suhail said the mosque invited non-Muslim community members to take part in meals after sundown.
The goal, he said, was to communicate with people of different faiths. "This is one of the ways we try to break the barriers," Suhail said.
While most of the mosque's members are Pakistani, Suhail, who came to the United States 22 years ago from Islamabad, said others are Arabs from a variety of countries, as well as African-American converts.
"They are all from different cultures, different races, but all are one faith," said Suhail. "You see faces from all over the world."