Muslim families in the Northshore area delivered gifts and cards to their neighbors last week to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the three-day holiday that marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan. Jeremy and Ida Mseitif of Bothell were among them, delivering homemade cookies to their neighbors, as they’ve done for the past few years.
“This Eid, we will spread peace for everyone. In this country, we can safely celebrate Eid,” unlike the current conflict in Gaza, Ida Mseitif said.
Eid al-Fitr is one of the most important holidays in Islam, along with Eid al-Adha, which follows the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Mseitifs’ celebrations started early in the morning. Eid al-Fitr celebrations call for Muslims to shower, dress up in new clothes, perfume themselves and say morning prayers. The Mseitifs attended an outdoor prayer event at a mosque in Everett.
The local Muslim community is also served by the Islamic Center of Bothell, of which Jeremy Mseitif was one of the main founders when it opened in 2009.
The Northshore area’s Muslim population is “slowly growing, because we have T-Mobile, AT&T, and we have Boeing and Microsoft,” he said.
Later in the day, the Mseitifs exchanged gifts, spent time with relatives, paid tribute to deceased family members by visiting their graves and had dinner and dessert.
The gift-giving was organized by CAIR-Washington, the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which invited Muslims throughout the state to print out Eid greeting cards, sign them and give them to neighbors with candy.
CAIR’s website cites a 2009 poll showing that unfamiliarity is a central factor in some Americans’ negative perceptions of Muslims, with 55 percent of Americans saying they lack a basic understanding of Islam and 53 percent saying they don’t personally know a Muslim.
“By joining thousands of Muslims statewide in meeting and starting relationships with their next-door neighbors, you are helping change the views on Islam/Muslims held by thousands of fellow Americans,” CAIR’s website reads.
Jeremy Mseitif said they hope to spread peace with their gift and counteract negative stereotypes of Muslims.
“We came to this country because we love the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of participating,” he said. “Islam is a peaceful religion. The Taliban or these other people have hijacked it.”