So of course these days it’s all about Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and Solstice and any other holiday I’ve forgotten to include. And if you watch the seasonal wishes on TV, you’ll see that they make a mention of all relevant holidays… except for the Muslim ones.
Surf through the myriad of channels on TV and there are holiday specials galore. Off the top of my head, I can quickly think of the Hallmark Channel’s “Celebrate Christmas with Maya Angelou” and ABC’s “Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade” with Regis Philbin, Kelly Ripa, and Ryan Seacrest. Past years saw Christmas specials with the likes of Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and other superstars. Even Adam Sandler often gets on board with some sort of Hanukkah hoopla hitting the radio and/or airwaves. And I know I’ve seen Little Bill address Kwanzaa on Nickelodeon.
So where are the television and radio shows about the Muslim holidays? Why isn’t Yusuf Islam (previously known as Cat Stevens) producing some sort of special bringing Muslim holidays to public attention? Courtesy of a reader who sent a chiding email to Beliefnet, I learned that I’m not the only one who feels that Islamic holidays should receive as much play as the others this time of year.
Sure, Ramadan and the holiday with which that month closes, Eid ul Fitr, are moving steadily farther away from the winter holiday season (since Muslims follow the lunar calendar, which moves the dates approximately 10 days back every year relative to the solar calendar). This year, Ramadan began in early October and ended in the first week of November. But as one holiday moves away from Christmas/Hanukkah/etc., another draws closer: Muslims’ second big holiday will fall immediately after the December holiday crush. That holiday is Eid ul Adha.
Eid ul Adha is the second Eid, which comes at the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Hajj will, inshallah (God willing), commence on January 9th, which is still close enough in my book to be included in the smorgasbord of holidays celebrated this time of year. Eid ul Adha often is forgotten by the public and private sector in this country. Hajj is a glorious event with deep, spiritual, and historical meaning for Muslims. But since it takes place in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims in the U.S. tend to forget that Muslims all over celebrate the spirit of Hajj and the holiday of Eid ul Adha.
So when you’re running through the gamut of religious greetings this time of year, don’t forget to say “Eid Mubarak” or “Happy Eid” along with “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah,” etc. And I challenge the “superstars” of Islamic faith to bring attention to this holiday. As Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr moves farther away from the winter holiday season, Hajj and Eid ul Adha will be a part of the giant, multifaith, December celebration for four or five years to come.
Television producers, journalists, public officials, and prominent Muslims, take note: It’s time to reclaim Eid ul Adha and give it the importance it deserves as a holiday celebrated by millions of Americans, not to mention hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide.