Muslim calendar creates 9/11 dilemma:US Muslims prep for Islamic holiday -around 9/11

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by ajtr, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Muslim calendar creates 9/11 dilemma
    US Muslims prep for Islamic holiday - around 9/11

    Updated: Friday, 13 Aug 2010, 12:25 PM CDT
    Published : Friday, 13 Aug 2010, 12:25 PM CDT

    RACHEL ZOLL,AP Religion Writer
    NEW YORK (AP) - The lunar calendar that Muslims follow for religious holidays is creating a potential for misunderstandings or worse in a year when American Muslims are already confronting a spike in assaults on their faith and protests against new mosques.

    Eid al-Fitr, a joyous holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, this year falls around Sept. 11. Muslim leaders fear that their gatherings for prayer and festivities could be misinterpreted by those unfamiliar with Islam as a celebration of the 2001 terrorist strikes.

    The Muslim Public Affairs Council, an advocacy group based in Los Angeles, is contacting law enforcement and the Justice Department civil rights division to alert them to the overlap.

    The Islamic Circle of North America, which organizes Muslim Family Days at the Six Flags amusement park in several cities around Eid al-Fitr, this year planned nothing for Saturday, Sept. 11, because of the anniversary. A founder of Muslim Family Day, Tariq Amanullah, worked at the World Trade Center and was killed in the attacks.

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights group, is urging mosques to review the group's security guidelines, including clearing brush where people could hide and installing surveillance cameras.

    "The issue I can sense brewing on hate sites on the Internet is, 'These Muslims are celebrating on September 11,'" said Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesman for CAIR. "It's getting really scary out there."

    The exact date of Eid al-Fitr this year is not yet known. Muslims follow different authorities on moonsightings and astronomical calculations to decide when a holiday begins. In North America, the eid could fall on Thursday, Sept. 9, Friday, Sept. 10, or Saturday, Sept. 11.

    It is one of the two biggest Muslim holidays of the year, often compared to Christmas in its significance and revelry. (The other major holiday is Eid al-Adha, at the end of the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.)

    Muslims who rarely attend congregational prayer fill mosques to overflowing on Eid al-Fitr. Mosque leaders often rent hotel ballrooms or convention centers to handle the crowds. Families wear their best clothes, exchange gifts, plan special meals with friends and relatives, sometimes decorate their homes inside and out, and organize carnivals for children.

    In predominantly Muslim countries, the celebration can last for three days. But because of work and school obligations in the U.S., American Muslims generally attend congregational prayer on the day of the holiday, then continue the festivities over the next weekend or two.

    Most mosques usually intensify security around Ramadan because of the attention the month brings. This year, leaders have grown especially concerned about safety. In recent months, mosques around the country have faced protests and vandalism. The debate over a proposed mosque and Islamic center near ground zero has become a national issue.

    Yet well before these recent tensions, American Muslim leaders saw trouble ahead when they checked the calendar. Haroon Moghul, a New York Muslim leader who speaks regularly at mosques, said mosque leaders have been discussing Eid al-Fitr for months.

    "When we realized that Ramadan would be ending around that time, a lot of people started sitting down together and saying, 'How do we handle this in a way that's appropriate?'" said Moghul, executive director of Maydan Institute, a communications consulting company.

    Moghul said most New York Muslims likely won't celebrate the way they normally do, and noted that a significant number lost relatives when the World Trade Center was destroyed. Many imams in the city plan sermons on dealing with loss and grief.

    "It's a very painful day for everyone," Moghul said.

    However, he and other American Muslim leaders don't want to make so many changes that they appear to be giving in to those who reject any Muslim observance in the United States. Some critics have said Muslims should move the date of the eid.

    "It's like being offended that 9/11 and Christmas fall on the same day," said Safaa Zarzour, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America, an Indiana-based communal group with tens of thousands of members. "There is something unsettling about that."

    Yvonne Maffei, 35, of Des Plaines, Ill., a Chicago suburb, said she and her husband plan to stick with their usual Eid al-Fitr plan. They will attend morning prayers at their local mosque, go out for brunch then visit friends during the day.

    "I think most Americans understand the value and place of religious holidays in a person's life," said Maffei, editor of My Halal Kitchen, a blog with recipes that meet Islamic dietary laws. "For those who don't, I just hope they will take the time to try and understand not only why we are celebrating at this time, but also what we are celebrating, which is the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a blessed month of fasting and attaining closeness to Allah."

    member of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, based in Sterling, Va., near Washington, D.C., said he hopes the attention to Muslim traditions during the month of Ramadan will help educate non-Muslims and decrease the likelihood of any problems.

    He said the mosque will reach out to its interfaith partners and others ahead of the eid. The All Dulles Society is one of the largest mosques in the country and expects to host as many as 20,000 worshippers during the holiday at several locations.

    Jaka said the board met a few weeks ago to discuss the overlapping dates and decided to include condemnations of terrorism and extremism in the holiday sermons. The mosque will also hold its annual interfaith, memorial and peace events tied to the anniversary.

    "Could there be some misperceptions because of the anti-Muslim climate? Potentially," Jaka said. "We will make sure our neighbors and friends understand that we all stand firmly as Americans for peace and for creating an environment of respect."
  3. Rebelkid

    Rebelkid Regular Member

    Jan 10, 2010
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    There is so much intolerance now between different faiths its rather hard to imagine what its going to be 10-20 years don the line..
  4. Agantrope

    Agantrope Senior Member Senior Member

    Nov 1, 2009
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    Can an inquisition happen in the Unkil's Land? This is heading in this way
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Surprise, Surprise, Surprise


    I just saw the movie “Invictus” — the story of how Nelson Mandela, in his first term as president of South Africa, enlists the country’s famed rugby team, the Springboks, on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup and, through that, to start the healing of that apartheid-torn land. The almost all-white Springboks had been a symbol of white domination, and blacks routinely rooted against them. When the post-apartheid, black-led South African sports committee moved to change the team’s name and colors, President Mandela stopped them. He explained that part of making whites feel at home in a black-led South Africa was not uprooting all their cherished symbols. “That is selfish thinking,” Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, says in the movie. “It does not serve the nation.” Then speaking of South Africa’s whites, Mandela adds, “We have to surprise them with restraint and generosity.”I love that line: “We have to surprise them.” I was watching the movie on an airplane and scribbled that line down on my napkin because it summarizes what is missing today in so many places: leaders who surprise us by rising above their histories, their constituencies, their pollsters, their circumstances — and just do the right things for their countries.

    I tried to recall the last time a leader of importance surprised me on the upside by doing something positive, courageous and against the popular will of his country or party. I can think of a few: Yitzhak Rabin in signing onto the Oslo peace process. Anwar Sadat in going to Jerusalem. And, of course, Mandela in the way he led South Africa.

    But these are such exceptions. Look at Iraq today. Five months after its first truly open, broad-based election, in which all the major communities voted, the political elite there cannot rise above Shiite or Sunni identities and reach out to the other side so as to produce a national unity government that could carry Iraq into the future. True, democracy takes a long time to grow, especially in a soil bloodied by a murderous dictator for 30 years. Nevertheless, up to now, Iraq’s new leaders have surprised us only on the downside.

    Will they ever surprise us the other way? Should we care now that we’re leaving? Yes, because the roots of 9/11 are an intra-Muslim fight, which America, as an ally of one faction, got pulled into. There are at least three different intra-Muslim wars raging today. One is between the Sunni far right and the Sunni far-far right in Saudi Arabia. This was the war between Osama bin Laden (the far-far right) and the Saudi ruling family (the far right). It is a war between those who think women shouldn’t drive and those who think they shouldn’t even leave the house. Bin Laden attacked us because we prop up his Saudi rivals — which we do to get their oil.

    In Iraq, you have the pure Sunni- versus-Shiite struggle. And in Pakistan, you have the fundamentalist Sunnis versus everyone else: Shiites, Ahmadis and Sufis. You will notice that in each of these civil wars, barely a week goes by without one Muslim faction blowing up another faction’s mosque or gathering of innocents — like Tuesday’s bombing in Baghdad, at the opening of Ramadan, which killed 61 people.

    In short: the key struggle with Islam is not inter-communal, and certainly not between Americans and Muslims. It is intra-communal and going on across the Muslim world. The reason the Iraq war was, is and will remain important is that it created the first chance for Arab Sunnis and Shiites to do something they have never done in modern history: surprise us and freely write their own social contract for how to live together and share power and resources. If they could do that, in the heart of the Arab world, and actually begin to ease the intra-communal struggle within Islam, it would be a huge example for others. It would mean that any Arab country could be a democracy and not have to be held together by an iron fist from above.

    But it will be impossible without Iraqi Shiite and Sunni Mandelas ready to let the future bury the past. As one of Mandela’s guards, watching the new president engage with South African whites, asks in the movie, “How do you spend 30 years in a tiny cell and come out ready to forgive the people who put you there?” It takes a very special leader.

    This is also why the issue of the mosque and community center near the site of 9/11 is a sideshow. The truly important question “is not can the different Muslim sects live with Americans in harmony, but can they live with each other in harmony,” said Stephen P. Cohen, an expert on interfaith relations and author of “Beyond America’s Grasp: a Century of Failed Diplomacy in the Middle East.”

    Indeed, the big problem is not those Muslims building mosques in America, it is those Muslims blowing up mosques in the Middle East. And the answer to them is not an interfaith dialogue in America. It is an intrafaith dialogue — so sorely missing — in the Muslim world. Our surge in Iraq will never bear fruit without a political surge by Arabs and Muslims to heal intracommunal divides. It would be great if President Obama surprised everyone and gave another speech in Cairo — or Baghdad — saying that.

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