An estimated 15,000 Muslims in the Baltimore area are preparing for celebrations Monday that will conclude Ramadan, the monthlong period of fasting and spiritual exercises.
One of the local mosques with a schedule of observances Monday morning for men, women and children is Masjid Walter TC Omar at 3401 W. North Ave. The Eid prayer will begin there at 10 a.m. The worship will be followed by the traditional Eidel-Fitr feast, masjid spokesman Emmanuel Karim announced.
"Eidul-Fitr is the celebration to commemorate the completion of Ramadan and represents a personal victory of one's spirituality over one's physical and worldly desires," Mr. Karim said.
He said Muslims' attendance for the Eid prayer is "profoundly important" and "strongly recommended."
During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims intensify their studies of the Koran and abstain in daylight hours from food, liquids (including water), smoking and sexual intercourse.
As is true this year, Ramadan often overlaps the Christian penitential season of Lent.
Easter for the world's Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant Christians will be April 3, celebrating the Resurrection of Christ, the culmination of the 40 days of Lenten preparations. In some respects, Lent and the spiritual preparations of Ramadan are similar.
For Eastern Orthodox Christians, Easter will be May 1.
Depending on sightings of the moon in different parts of the world, the precise beginning and end of the Muslims' fast can vary. In some years, Ramadan occurs in summer instead of winter.
Suheil Bushrui, a professor at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland College Park, delivered the first Bahai-sponsored lecture on world peace there March 3.
"We inhabit a world that is 'running scared' from its spiritual roots, in which we seek to hide our emptiness behind the bleak walls of materialism," Dr. Bushrui said. "Yet we can never escape from what is so inextricably a part of our nature.
"However deeply buried, however sorely burdened, however grievously neglected, the human spirit can never be entirely stifled, eclipsed or overwhelmed."
Referring to what he called "the striking disparity" between development of scientific knowledge on the one hand and the true wisdom that embraces spirituality and ethics on the other, Dr. Bushrui said, "The cultural predicament of modern man is that he is divided within himself, and where there is no unity there can be no peace."
The professor, who teaches a course at College Park called "The Spiritual Heritage of the Human Race," said moral and ethical values need to be taught in colleges and universities.
Adherents of the international Bahai faith such as Dr. Bushrui stress the oneness of God. A principal goal of the religion is the unification of mankind. Founded in the 19th century in what was then Persia by a prophet named Baha'u'llah, the faith has an estimated 110,000 followers in the United States.
Gillis Memorial grows:
Gillis Memorial Christian Community Church, at 4016 Park Heights Ave., plans to begin construction of a 13,000-square-foot addition this spring to include a library, offices, multipurpose rooms, rest rooms, a baptismal pool, baptism preparation rooms and an elevator.
The Rev. Theodore Clifton Jackson Jr., the pastor, said the church has raised the $1 million cost of the expansion. He is the son of the founder of what was originally Gillis Methodist Episcopal Church on Stockton Street in West Baltimore. The congregation moved to Calhoun and Mulberry streets in 1947, when it affiliated with the United Council of Community Churches of Maryland and Vicinity, and to its current location in Northwest Baltimore in 1960.
Waters African Methodist Episcopal Church, 417 Aisquith St. in East Baltimore, will celebrate Women's Day Sunday with services at 11 a.m., when the guest preacher will be the Rev. Roberta Shelton of New Psalmist Baptist Church, and at 3 p.m., when women of the church will be honored for their achievements.