Ramadan Celebration Brought to Tenafly


Photo: Samuel Lee

Sarah dos Santos, Staff Writer

On Sunday, March 26, at 6:00 pm, the first ever Ramadan celebration was held at Huyler Park in Tenafly, New Jersey. This event was organized by Tenafly High School Senior, Zaki Khan, and his mother, Nazia Wajid, in attempts to “teach about Ramadan, experience culture and participate in our crescent lighting event.”

In the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Muslims participate in the sacred ritual of Ramadan. The religion of Islam contains five pillars, one of which is fasting. For that reason, during this month, they follow a stringent daily fast in order to create a “nearness” with God as well as identify with the adversities of the less fortunate. From dawn until sunset, Muslims avoid any food or water until it is time to break the fast during iftar, or sundown. This custom does not only portray the principles of religion, but emphasizes the strength of community and family as well as they gather together in the mosques for communal prayers for the consecutive 30 nights.

Photo: Samuel Lee

The Ramadan crescent lighting project, organized by the Eid Committee of New Jersey, is the first ever Islamic celebration taken place in Bergen County. Thirty towns across the county participated in this town event in raising awareness. Expecting a turnout of 20 people, Khan was able to gather 60 people, of not only Muslim identity, but of all religions. 

Khan’s family had previously lived in the town of Teaneck: a place flourishing with inclusivity for the Islamic religion. By moving a mere 15 minutes over, he observed that the environment involving diversity and stigma drastically changed. In a Dwellics article, it observed that a staggering 0.5% of the religious population in Tenafly are Muslim, compared to Catholicism reaching nearly half of the population at 47.5%. 

Photo: Samuel Lee

Over the span of eight weeks, Khan and his family took steps in order to make this project come into fruition. First, Khan proposed the details of the idea to Tenafly’s public town council. Once they approved, he reached out to Muslim families in town to raise money for funding. After raising a successful $1,200, the date, guests, and procedures started to be arranged. Highly regarded figures such as the Mayor of Tenafly, Mark Zinna, State Senator Gordon Johnson, and others attended this event to serve as guest speakers.

“The event was a huge success. No food went to waste, a community was built, and immense support and gratitude from the council of Tenafly was communicated, all suggesting this event should be celebrated annually. We donated the crescent to the township of Tenafly so they could continue this tradition for years to come,” said Zaki Khan (’23), Tenafly High School Senior. 

Khan further expressed his content and considers the turnout a big achievement, hoping his next steps to raising awareness for this sacred tradition is convincing the school board to have an excused holiday for Eid—a day of celebration to end the month of Ramadan—to honor its importance and commemoration.

Through the adversity and prejudice at hand in our current society, the Ramadan crescent lighting event was able to serve as a reminder that people’s differences are meant to bring us together, and that there will always be “beauty in unity.”