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In the Name of God: The Eternally and Extremely Loving and Caring

I usually look at the calendar for the expected timing of the two major Muslim holidays well in advance, so I can plan my work schedule around them. When I saw the expected date for the major Muslim holiday of Eid-ul-Adha, or “Feast of the Sacrifice,” my heart sank in total dread: Sunday, September 11. My elation, therefore, was palpable when Saudi authorities announced that Eid-ul-Adha is going to be on Monday, September 12 and not September 11.

Eid-ul-Adha is the major Muslim holiday that commemorates the story of Abraham and the sacrifice of his son, Ishmael (in Islamic tradition). This holiday falls right in the middle of the Hajj, or the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims should perform if physically and financially able. The rituals of the Hajj is a live re-enactment of the story of when Abraham – after being commanded by God – left his wife and young son in the barren plain of Paran (later to become Mecca).

The Hajj is the trip of a lifetime for every Muslim, and that includes me. For those Muslims not in Mecca on the pilgrimage, they celebrate Eid-ul-Adha by performing special morning prayers and sacrificing an animal to be distributed to the poor. The animal sacrifice is also in honor of the Prophet Abraham, who was ordered by God to sacrifice an animal instead of his son.

This is an important religious holiday for Muslims, for we celebrate this day in solidarity with the millions of our Muslim sisters and brothers who are blessed to perform the Hajj this year. The timing of the holiday is not in our control, as it is based on a lunar calendar. Had Eid-ul-Adha actually been on 9/11, Muslims likely would have had to think twice (or three times) about openly celebrating this holiday.

The reason for this is the toxic anti-Muslim atmosphere of 2016, especially in light of this year’s Presidential election. If Eid would have been on 9/11, given the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, there may have been the real threat of violence against the community. Why, I could even see the headlines that may have been generated in some media outlets: “MUSLIMS CELEBRATE ON NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING,” or “MUSLIMS CELEBRATE WHILE FELLOW AMERICANS GRIEVE.” Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump could have even said – and be telling the truth this time – that he saw Muslims celebrating on 9/11. (Only, it would have been 9/11/16.)

This is not right.

If Eid was on 9/11, our celebration would not have been because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It would have been because Eid-ul-Adha happened to fall on that day. In fact, Muslims would have likely prayed for the victims’ families on that day and joined their fellow Americans in memorials and commemorations. We are Americans like everyone else, and the 9/11 attacks hurt us just as much, if not more, as any other American.

Still, it is no secret that most, if not all, of us had a BIG sigh a relief when Eid was announced to be on September 12. It is sad, but true nonetheless. I pray for a day when all Americans – of every faith and stripe – no longer have to worry about being attacked for practicing their religion in their own country, even if that would mean celebrating a religious holiday that happens to fall on 9/11. I pray that day comes and comes soon.

 

 

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