About 120 Nigerians gathered at the Istijaabat Mosque in Brooklyn, New York, to celebrate Eid el-fitri, the Ramadan festival. The call to prayer and sermon was followed by feasting on barbecued meat, bread, eggs and many other delicacies. Dressed in their elegant Nigerian outfits with head wraps and fancy veils, some women danced inside the mosque to “Obi Rere,” a popular Muslim song by Ameenat Ajao, while little children rallied around their elders outside the mosque collecting money as it is the custom.
“We have many Nigerians here, so the same way we mark it in Nigeria is the same system we have brought here,” said the Chief Imam, Adbul-Fatai Akanni Abodunrin. “About 10 years ago, everybody goes back home after the prayer. But now, after the prayer, we bring ourselves together to celebrate. We’re mixed with the Ghanaian community, the Senegalese, the Guineans, and Black Americans to celebrate and pray together.”
Alhaja Sherifat Ajoke Adiro said being away from home propels them to be more religious.
“We in America, we know the value of God more, because this is a difficult country where it is difficult for you to raise your kids to practice Islam, but with God’s help, we’re training them in Islam.”
But to many Muslims at this Mosque, Ramadan festival cannot be compared to the celebration in Nigeria.
“This celebration is not well recognized here, because America is just getting to know Islam, and with what is happening around the world, some people still didn’t get that Islam is a religion of peace. Overall, Ramadan is more enjoyable in Nigeria where there will be a public holiday,” said Imam Isa Ibrahim.
These Muslims also described the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria as a menace to their religion. They expressed their condolence to the families who lost their loved ones in the bombing of the United Nations building.
“Fighting in the course of Allah is mere nonsense. To me, Allah himself can fight for himself. They are just doing it for political reasons, they have their own intensions and some dumb people who are sick are being used. Islam is a religion of peace,” said Alhaja Adiro.
The Chief Imam said the group is sponsored by political leaders who want power in Nigeria. “All their deeds are destructive and Islam has never taught anybody to be destructive. We can use the Sharia law to bring justice on these destructive people, because for how long will the Nigerian government carry out investigation? If they could do something, they would have anchored them. Their lack of action is why these people have continued in these destructive acts,” he said.