Russia marks end of Ramadan

Ramadan, the month long Muslim holiday of fasting (when daylight) ended yesterday, 7 August and today the three day celebration began in most countries around the world.

By the thousands Muslims filled the streets of Moscow with prayers at sunrise to begin the holiday of Uraza Bairam (Eid al Fitr) which is translated as the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast, the Muslim festival is known in the Russian Federation and Central Asia as Uraza Bayram (Ураза-байрам).

Uraza Bairam: Muslim sunrise prayers, Moscow 2013 on Prospekt Mira (Avenue).
Uraza Bairam: Muslim sunrise prayers, Moscow 2013 on Prospekt Mira (Avenue).

A lavish feast is one of the holiday’s traditions. Muslim believers say that during the feast the goal is to feed guests with everything the host has to offer, so that no food is left.

Ritual washing before prayers.
Ritual washing before prayers.

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, many Muslims wore new clothes to visit local mosques. Fasting is accomplished during Ramadan by refraining from food and drink during daylight hours from sunrise to sunset. Smoking, drinking and sex during the daylight hours are also prohibited.

Moscow: Police form lines into and out of Metro stations.
Moscow: Police form lines into and out of Metro stations.

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin released a statement saying that, “The Muslim community in Russia is actively involved in our country’s life, and makes a unique contribution to educating young people and developing interfaith dialogue.”

A common practice is to surround police and first responder vehicles in order to render them immovable during prayers.
A common practice is to surround police and first responder vehicles in order to render them immovable during prayers.

The city of Moscow employed an additional 3,000 police officers to assist with crowd control, traffic movement and to curtail violence. The holiday is often accompanied by violence and Islamic extremists took credit for a bombing in the Philippines that killed 8 people and in Jakarta a bomb exploded outside an ancient Buddhist Temple injuring several bystanders but none were killed.

Moscow: side streets filled up quickly just before sunrise.
Moscow: side streets filled up by sunrise.

Last year the national Islamic television channel, Al-RTV, was launched in Russia on the day of Uraza Bayram. The channel promotes an Islamic view of news and culture for Russia’s Muslims.

Another practice is to block train tracks and bus stations during prayers.
Another practice is to block train tracks and bus stations during prayers.

In Russia, the Republic of Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov issued a greeting to Russian Muslims by saying, “I am sure that Tatarstan Muslims and representatives of other religions will contribute to consolidation of peace and concord, creation of fair and prosperous society.”

Moscow: Muslim women from the Caucasus wait for their men to pray.
Moscow: Muslim women from the Caucasus wait for their men to pray.

Men are the first to visit their friends and relatives during the beginning of Russia’s Eid al-Fitr, while women are allowed to pay visits on the second and third days.

The largest Russian celebrations take place in Chechnya, Tatarstan, Bashkiria and in the whole North Caucasus region. Several countries, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, don’t begin the Eid holiday until Friday until the moon is observed.

(All photographs: Ilya Varlamov)