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    Army Chaplain joins service members for Eid ul-Fitr

    Army Chaplain Joins Service Members for Eid Ul-Fitr

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Katherine Hofman | In celebration of Eid ul-Fitr, Joint Task Force Guantanamo and U.S. Naval Station...... read more read more

    GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — Joint Task Force Guantanamo and U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Muslim personnel celebrated the end of Ramadan, Sept. 19, with the observance of the three-day festival, Eid ul-Fitr. Ramadan, one of the most important observances in Islam when Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, is not complete without the Eid festivities.

    Army Maj. Abdullah Hulwe, a Muslim chaplain, visited Guantanamo on a mission to support Muslim service members and civilians during their spiritual journey from Ramadan through Eid ul-Fitr. "It's like Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas all in one. It is about spirituality and community, gifts, dressing nice, praying together, the whole package," said Hulwe. "Coming together is a joyful time, and brings joy to the heart and soul."

    Observers of Islam joined as a congregation for special Eid ul-Fitr morning prayers and a festive meal at the naval station chapel's mosque room. Traditionally, after the prayers, people visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances and some pay visits to cemeteries as a way of connecting and remembering where they have come from.

    "Because Muslims are all over the world, each ethnicity brings it's own food from all over the world. It's like a worldwide festival," said Hulwe.

    It would be easy to get caught up in the festivities, enjoying the food and celebrating the end of the month-long fast, but Chaplain Hulwe used this time to refocus the congregation. He put the celebration into perspective for the attendees, after the Eid prayer by asking those present what they had learned during Ramadan. His talk focused the followers on the long-term purpose of both Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr and encouraged them to keep the principals and focal points of Islam in their minds past the celebration and into the New Year.

    Noor Mohamed, a JTF Guantanamo civilian contractor, understands the concept Hulwe is talking about as he shares his experience of Eid ul-Fitr. "It's not a celebration about Ramadan being over, but that you had the strength and support from God to be able to do it," he said. Mohamed explained what fasting during Ramadan meant to him and the memories of not having what most people take for granted like food and water. "You have a memory of your entire life, when you had food, and when you did not. It is emotional and hard to forget," said Mohamed. This point of view helps him to continue to reach out to other people as part of his spiritual path. "When you sit down to a meal, it reminds you of the people who don't have what you have." This, Mohamed says, encourages him to give to others.

    Selfless giving, or charity, is a large part of Ramadan and a quality that is focused on especially during Eid ul-Fitr. Mohamed sees his Ramadan observances as a part of selfless giving, humility and honoring his own spiritual journey. It's what he sees as "charity and remembrance."

    "We are all equal, the rich, poor, kings, and workers, we all fast. It's about discipline and putting yourself on the same level as others and putting yourself in the shoes of the have nots," Mohamed said.

    Of course, charity can be sponsoring a family or giving money to the poor, but as Mohamed notes, charity is not about money, but rather acknowledging others. "The best charity is not always money; the best charity is a smile, asking how your day is going. It comes from inside," Mohamed said.

    Getting information about Islam out to other service members is another way to share and give to others. This has been the focus of Hulwe's visit during this time of celebration. Hulwe says he is happy to share information about practices of Islam. "It helps both the Muslims and those of other faiths, to understand," he said. Hulwe sees his sharing as, "giving insight, as well as sight." This unique perspective helps keep him going. The wonderful part Hulwe said, "is when both sides can see that their values and concerns are exactly the same, everyone wants good things for their family and for themselves and [everybody] wants to help."

    More than one billion people around the world, including nearly 5,000 active duty and reserve-component U.S. military members, are estimated to be followers of Islam, coming from all over the world including China, Indonesia, the Philippines, United States and the Middle East.

    It is rewarding to work as "a bridge between one [religion] and the other, and to clarify the cloud hanging over the Islamic faith, and to see that the cloud is not black anymore, but actually shining," Chaplain Hulwe said.

    For more information about Joint Task Force Guantanamo, visit the Web site at



    Date Taken: 09.25.2009
    Date Posted: 09.30.2009 13:24
    Story ID: 39494
    Location: GUANTANAMO BAY, CU 

    Web Views: 290
    Downloads: 242