This year, Ramadan started on August 11th 2010, and is expected to end either on September 9th or September 10th (29 or 30 days from the day it started depending on the sighting of the moon via several methods) and there are mounting fears that Muslims all around America may suffer a backlash on Eid al-Fitr. It just so happens that this joyous Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan coincides with the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.
For those who may not know, the Islamic calendar uses the lunar system and that is why it rolls back 11 days each Gregorian year. The average length of a 12-month lunar year is 354.37 days, which is 10.8751 days short of the average length of the solar year (365.2422 days). Most lunar calendars (ie. Hebrew, Chinese, etc.) add a 13th “leap” month every 24 to 36 months. They do so to maintain the synchronization between lunar years and the four seasons. This is not the case with the Islamic Hijri calendar.
Eid al-Fitr, expected to be on either Sept. 9th or 10th 2010, celebrates the completion of the month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast and increase their spiritual devotions. On this day, Muslims all over the world thank Allah for his blessings upon them and for the gift of fasting.
Although, there is the sense of excitement between Muslims in America about this Eid, there is also a great sense of fear. These fears do not seem unreasonable in the current climate of heightened attention and sensitivity with the media fiasco surrounding Muslims, the “ground zero mosque” and the “National Burn the Quran Day” sponsored by the “Dove World Outreach Center.”
These recent events and the adverse media coverage have left some second generation Muslim Americans feeling like pariahs in their only land. Some of us have come to realize with certainty that there are Americans who are publicly and subliminally promoting the idea that Muslims are outsiders in our own lands and are unwelcome to stay here.
In light of these current events, some leaders of Islamic centers around the nation are worried and many ordinary Muslims fear celebrating our post-Ramadan festival as normal as in every other year. Some have even gone as far as to cancel their annual carnival held the Saturday after Ramadan because it falls on September 11 and they do not want to be seen celebrating on that day. There is a difference between canceling their carnival due to the sensitivity of this event versus canceling it due to fears of violence. One is being considerate of the situation while the other is being terrorized and scared!
Fears of aggressive violence and retaliation against centers and places of worship are rising to new levels given some of the aggressive protests and vandalism that has taken place at various mosques around the country in the past few weeks.
In the face of such terrorizing events, we the Muslims are left with one of two solutions, a) just don’t show up to the Eid prayer and stay home in fear of any aggressive confrontation, or b) disregard those threats and show up and celebrate our Eid as we normally do. It is my opinion that if we don’t show up, we will be declaring our defeat to bigotry and xenophobia. That is why I highly recommend that everyone show up and encourage other Muslims around him/her to make an extra effort to show up this year. As a matter of fact, please invite one or two of your non-Muslim friends or coworkers. Also make sure you bring your camcorder or have the video recording option on your cell phone ready, in case any bigoted event takes place.
Either way, whether peaceful Eid celebrations go on as planned or are interrupted by protesters, please go to the Eid prayer, dress nicely, exchange gifts and take this as an opportunity to educate the majority of our American neighbors that are misinformed about our religion and celebrations.
An excellent post from MuslimMatters.org.