Local Muslims gather at GRB for prayer

HOUSTON The first night of celebrations for Muslims include family and a lot of food. Overwhelmingly, everyone we talked to today says they feel while their religion has been tested in public, they are unwavering in their conviction. And they are hopeful this marks the start of a peaceful year.

Flanked by dozens of security personnel, thousands of Muslim-Houstonians poured into the George R. Brown Convention Center for Friday prayers, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"Basically you could say it's like our Christmas - the Islamic Christmas," said Ashia Kayzer.

The celebration, called Eid al-Fitr, caps the month of sacrifice. During Ramadan, Muslims give to the poor and fast daily from dawn to dusk, breaking their fasts with feasts after sundown each night.

"You feel what the hungry feel, you give in monetary value to the less fortunate and that's it," Kayzer said.

Following the lunar calendar, this year's celebration falls on the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which gives pause for reflection.

"We hate that it happened to anybody. Any time you kill innocent persons like our Quran tells us, it's like you're killing the whole of humanity," said Mustafaa Carroll.

And it gives pause for education - particularly in light of the controversies that have drawn world-wide disruption about whether or not to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York and a Florida pastor's on-again, off-again claims of setting the Muslim holy book on fire in conjunction with the 9/11 anniversary.

"I think people need to be more open minded and start researching Islam, and seeing what the true message really is," said Harris Selim.

People we spoke with said they believe that a place of worship should be erected anywhere, and they have no feeling toward this pastor for his proposed actions.

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