The women climb the stairs to the second floor of the mosque. They slide off their shoes; some shed their head scarves. All are wearing their sparkling finest dresses and jewels.
They have come to pray and celebrate Eid al-Adha, “the Festival of Sacrifice,” a Muslim holy day celebrated around the world that commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son to Allah, as a test of his faith and obedience to God’s will. On the main floor, the men assemble. In Islam, men and women gather and pray separately.
At 8:30 a.m., more than 60 women file into a small room and form four rows, facing east toward Mecca, the holy city in Saudi Arabia. Some sit quietly after prayer and listen to the sermon; others move into the larger room to talk and keep an eye on the children playing.
“Eid Mubarak. Eid Mubarak,” they exchange the traditional Arabic greeting, “Blessed Festival.” They embrace, kiss each other on the cheek. The teenage girls gather outside the bathroom, “by the mirror,” they joke, to talk about school, grades and other things.