Children receive presents during the end of the Ramadan celebration, Eid Ul Fitr, at the Bait Ul Baqi in Norcross.
NORCROSS -- "Eid mubarak!" -- or happy greetings in Arabic. Everyone hugged each other and wished "eid mubarak" to those around them after the hour-long prayer service and khutbah (sermon) given by Hazeem Pudhiapura, Jamat President of Atlanta's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
On Tuesday, the mosque of Bait Ul Baqi in Norcross gathered together to celebrate the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting with an event called Eid Ul Fitr or "festivity of breaking the fast."
For the celebration, everyone bought new clothes in bright, vibrant colors. Gifts were given to small children and immediate family. Then the men and women separately enjoyed a meal composed of Basmati rice, chicken in a spicy sauce, a salad and desserts to honor the month's sacrifices.
The holiday of Ramadan is important to the Islamic faith because it brings worshippers closer to God.
"Ramadan isn't just about fasting from food," Pudhiapura said. "You come closer to God. You pray for mercy and forgiveness and obtaining salvation."
Those who are healthy enough to fast eat before sunrise and then again after sunset. During the day, nothing is allowed to be digested, including water. This is why young children, the sick and laborers are not asked to partake in the cleansing.
"Basically, it's like missing your lunch," said Jhayyur Khan, Secretary of Public Affairs of Atlanta's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. "And this time of year, water is especially missed, but it helps you understand how it is to go with out like some other people do."
Other than abstaining from food and beverages, those fasting also refrain from cussing, lying, cheating or other morally wrong things.
With men in one room and women in the other, Pudhiapura spoke about a number of things during his sermon: life is sacred, love those around you -- family, neighbors and friends -- and be loyal to the country you live in.
While speaking about the importance of life, Pudhiapura continuously talked about a new program that the Ahmadiyya community has created called Muslims for Life.
In remembrance of those who died on Sept. 11, the national Ahmadiyya community is asking everyone in the country, no matter what religion, race or color, to donate blood at Red Cross. They want to collect 10,000 bags of blood to save 30,000 lives, since 3,000 innocent lives were taken 10 years ago.
"The terrorists did not hijack just planes on that day," Padhiapura said. "They hijacked the Islamic religion that day and they want become the Islamic spokesperson, but they're not. Islam believes in the sanctity of life."
Blood drives will be held throughout the month of September. On Sept. 11, Bait Ul Baqi Mosque will hold a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be drives at Decatur Book Festival, Town Center at Cobb Mall, Mansour Center and seven Red Cross locations around the state.
If you decide to join the cause, mention Muslims for Life so the banks know where to credit the donations.
For more information about the blood drives dates and times, visit www.muslimsforlife.org.