Muslims will tone down Eid celebrations on 9/11
With the end of Ramadan coinciding this year with the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many Muslims are delaying by a day or even a week the usual celebrations that mark the end of the holy month.
Seattle Times staff reporter
For Muslims here and around the world, Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan with a day of prayer followed by celebrations.
But in a quirk of the lunar calendar that determines the start of Eid, the holiday this year will occur around Sept. 11, when many Americans will mark with somber remembrance the terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people nine years ago.
This year, prayer services will still be held on the first day of Eid, which is expected to be Friday or Saturday. But to avoid celebrating at a time when other Americans are mourning, many Muslim families and mosques are delaying Eid celebrations by a day or even a week.
"It's out of respect," said Kabir Jeddy, treasurer of the Muslim Association of the Puget Sound, MAPS, a Redmond mosque. "It's not that we are putting our lives on hold altogether, but it's not a day we want to be out celebrating."
The already sensitive timing of Eid and the 9/11 anniversary has been made even more so by a confluence of developments that in recent weeks and months have put Islam in the spotlight.
A proposed community center and mosque near where the World Trade Center towers stood before the attacks in Lower Manhattan has divided Americans, with two-thirds of those surveyed in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll objecting to the proposed complex.
A protest over its siting is scheduled for Sept. 11 in New York on the same day a Florida pastor has threatened to burn copies of the Quran, sparking international condemnation.
Ramadan commemorates the seventh-century revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad and Muslims mark it in part by fasting each day between dawn and sunset. The timing of Ramadan is determined by moon sightings — with the month beginning with one new moon and ending with the next.
Several prayer services marking the first day of Eid are planned across the Puget Sound region, where the number of Muslims has grown significantly in recent years, with estimates of between 60,000 and 75,000.
Jeddy says more than 10,000 people are expected for prayers at the Washington State Convention Center, and several thousand will gather at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.
Ordinarily, families and Muslim groups then host Eid parties or mosques organize larger family-style celebrations.
But this year, "I would think most people would have enough common sense not to have parties on Sept. 11 because of its significance for the nation at large," said Imam Humza Chaudhry of the Thawr Institute in North Seattle, a mosque and educational center. "The prayer is the main celebration."
Jeddy said, for example, that MAPS' celebration is scheduled for the following Saturday at Remlinger Farms in Carnation.
Jawad Khaki, president and imam at the Imam Center in Kirkland, said his mosque this year will forgo all celebrations, which usually include a dinner. Instead, it will host an interfaith service with its neighbor, the Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church.
"It will be a reflective and somber mood that recognizes the loss of thousands who died and many thousands more who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. "It's more about praying for the victims and survivors of the tragedies."
Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of the state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said many Muslim organizations are planning service projects on Sept. 11 — including events to feed the hungry and to make blood donations.
"We want to avoid giving the impression that this is a celebration on a day that is sad for all of us."
Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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