Thousands of Boston area Muslims gathered Wednesday to celebrate Eid — a holy day that marks the end of the month of Ramadan.
The day began with early morning prayers. Under an already-hot sun, worshipers packed the football field at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury for one prayer service. And for many there, the occasion was about community.
"It’s kind of amazing how many people turn up for this," said Rabia Mazhar, 19, of Andover. "Just walking in and seeing all the people in all the bright colors. It’s just a great feeling of community and you feel so welcome."
Tania Ahmed, 22, of Somerville, said Eid brings people together to celebrate after a month of fasting.
"I’m just super happy," Ahmed said. "I took the day off from work. I’m here with my mother, we said our Eid prayers together and I’m having friends over for dinner and just spending time with people that I love. So it’s just a happy day."
A happy day that was all the more welcome after a string of recent terror attacks in Baghdad, Bangladesh and elsewhere. Yasir Fahmy, the senior imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, delivered Wednesday's prayer sermon and spoke about the recent attacks, as well as negative attitudes toward Muslims.
"God, we know that you are greater than the rhetoric that we see rampant in the airwaves, the toxic rhetoric that is causing the fear and the anxiety that has become rampant in our society," Fahmy told the large crowd. "We say 'Allahu akbar' because we know that God, he is greater than that vile death cult, that vile deviant cult that is spreading harm and treachery across the world."
Fahmy also told the crowd to go out and "spread lots of smiles and joy."
"There’s no doubt that the community has been overwhelmed just like the rest of us as Americans," Fahmy said after the prayer service. "We’ve been overwhelmed by the constant agony and pain and horror, but we are always looking for moments of joy."
Mayor Marty Walsh also attended Wednesday's service and told the crowd that the city values and supports the Muslim community.
"I want you to know that we stand with you because I know that when the imam is talking, when you're praying, we're praying about hope, we're praying about peace and we're praying for our young children that are running around the field today to make sure they have a good world and a great opportunity to be as successful as anybody," Walsh said.
Walsh's words resonated with many attendees, who said they appreciated the show of solidarity.
"It’s good to have support from local politicians, especially the mayor, in times like these when it’s not so nice to be Muslim in the United States, and it's just really nice to have support in that way," Ahmed said.
Said Elkatta, 24, of Cambridge, said it's important for different communities in Boston to come together.
"It’s obviously great to have the support of our city behind us and we look forward to spreading peace and happiness throughout the city and throughout the nation, as our religion teaches us," Elkatta said.
And that message is exactly what many hope will extend beyond the day.
This segment aired on July 6, 2016.