Part Of the Fabric Of the City, a Growing Islamic Community

September 14, 2010

Author: Julia O'Malley

Source: Anchorage Daily News

I sat in the back of the gym at the Fairview Recreation Center on Friday, counting the people lined up for prayers at Anchorage's Eid Day, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. Four hundred. Five hundred. Maybe, with children, close to 600.

I went to a similar gathering five years ago, then the group in the gym had been half the size. I tried to place the types of dress around me in the women's section. African women with their hair piled high, heads covered in jewel tone cloths. A rainbow of saris and scarves I guessed might be from Pakistan, India or Bangladesh. A kimono-type dress from Malaysia. A dark chador I thought might be from Iran. The room quieted down. I was sitting next to a woman in red sari, her wrist painted with a henna vine. When she moved, her gold bracelets jingled softly.

"Eid Mubarak," she said, meaning, "may you enjoy a blessed festival."