As Muslims worldwide celebrated the start of the three-day Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Islam's holiest month, clerics also urged worshippers to divert zakat, or alms, to the Palestinians.
In Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the imam of Masjid Al Haram, Islam's holiest site, said ``the tragic events'' in the Palestinian territories are a ``source of sorrow to every Arab, Muslim and fair-minded person in the world.''
``The Jewish invaders have violated the forbidden, desecrated the sacred and usurped our land in Palestine while the whole world has stood idle,'' Sheik Mohammed Bin Abdellah Al-Sabeel said in a sermon following the Eid prayers. His words were broadcast live across the region on state-owned Saudi satellite television.
Muslims believe the Quran, their holy book, was revealed to man over Ramadan 14 centuries ago. They mark the holy month with daylong fasts and celebrate its end with feasting.
But unlike previous years, Muslims in many countries ended this Ramadan with few festivities. Palestinian families all over the West Bank and Gaza were mourning their dead. Nearly 350 people have been killed in the three months of fighting in Israel and the Palestinian territories, most of them Palestinian.
In Cairo, imams who led millions of worshippers in mosques and city squares urged followers to give the traditional Eid alms to Palestinians who have lost relatives in the uprising. After prayers, some activists sold pictures of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem to raise funds for the Palestinians.
Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blasted Israel and promised to support the Palestinian uprising.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who performed early-morning prayers in a Gaza mosque, told reporters that ``This holiday is decisive. With God's help, it will lead to a Palestinian boy or a Palestinian girl raising the flag of Palestine over the walls of Jerusalem.''
Elsewhere, politics mixed with religion to intrude on the sacred.
In Afghanistan, the ruling Taliban militia's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, warned his countrymen that the United States and Russia have a plan to isolate Muslims worldwide beginning with Afghanistan.
Omar issued a message calling for vigilance, particularly against the United States and Russia, who cosponsored a U.N. resolution imposing sweeping new sanctions on the Taliban. He accused America of using the presence of suspected terrorist Osama bin-Laden in Afghanistan as a ploy to thwart the rule of the Taliban, who espouse a harsh brand of Islamic law in the 95 percent of the country they control.
Celebration of the Eid holiday got under way Tuesday night in Indonesia, as millions of Muslims paraded through the streets of cities and towns across the country, chanting the name of Allah and setting off fireworks. But here, too, concerns beyond the spiritual cast a pale over the holiday.
Muslim-Christian conflict has claims scores of lives in parts of Indonesia and Christmas Eve church bomings left more than a dozen Christians dead. Government officials decried the attacks, but said more could come.
In nearby Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad opened the doors of his residence in Putrajaya Wednersday to an estimated 100,000 people. Many of them were dressed in their best traditional clothes, and each received a customary gift of food.