How do Americans and non-Muslims view Eidul Azha?

Published: September 15, 2016

Muslim men attend Eid prayers to mark the end of Ramadan in the Queens borough of New York, USA. PHOTO: REUTERS

This year, a controversy surrounded the arrival of Eidul Azha, the second most important holiday in Islam, involving the holiday’s date, as the Express Tribune reported: American Muslims on edge as Eidul Azha looks set to fall on September 11th.

Muslims abroad, especially in the United States, faced the prospect that celebration would coincide with a day of mourning of those killed at the World Trade Centres. As a result, some Muslim leaders prepared for tension between their community and anti-Muslim bigots. In the New York Times, Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, said,

“Our community is like, ‘What are we supposed to do?’ I should not have to think about that. What am I supposed to tell my kids?”

Her statement comes in context of a recent murder, in the New York borough of Queens, of an imam and his assistant, though the investigation has not determined whether this is a hate crime or related to a dispute between the Hispanic community and the mosque.

Nevertheless, just as the actions of terrorists committing acts in the name of Islam do not represent Muslims, the acts of anti-Muslim bigots do not represent non-Muslims, though we must remain vigilant against both elements.

Fortunately, due to the sighting of the moon, this year’s Eid began on September 12th  in the US. And so this year’s Eidul Azha passed without additional controversy.

But how do Americans and non-Muslims view Eidul Azha?

Very few would know that there are two Eids, the other being Eidul Fitr, or that Eidul Azha commemorates how Abraham (or Ibrahim) offered his son Ishmael as sacrifice, and the divine intervention saved him from carrying out the act – even though many Jews and Christians are familiar with this parable. Outside the Muslim community, the holiday does not merit much attention.

To find out more, I talked to Muslims that I know personally in our community in the Pacific Northwest as to how they approach the holiday, including those from Somalia, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Without exception they claimed to celebrate this year’s Eid quietly with family and friends, exchanging gifts, with prayers at the mosque, and if the holiday falls on a school day they might take their children out of class. But none feared any repercussions from society at large. If there were to be any controversy on a broader scale, it would have come from the animal rights activists who oppose the sacrifice of animals (a minor concern).

As Muslims adapt and integrate more with the west, the west will have a reciprocal understanding, and society will progress, a good development. Thus we should take words by Dean Obeidallah into account, who recently wrote at the Daily Beast,

“I’ve never been more optimistic about our future in America…. I’m sure the years ahead will be challenging ones for the Muslim American community. But the anti-Muslim hate we see now will fade—our nation’s history tells us so. Jews and Catholics before us endured similar barbs, slurs, and fears, and in time overcame them. Deep in my heart, I am certain that we, too, will overcome.”

What he said.

Caleb Powell

Caleb Powell

The writer is a Polish/Persian American and worked overseas for eight years, in East Asia, the Middle East, and South America. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest with his family. He Tweets @sonofmizrahi (twitter.com/sonofmizrahi?lang=en)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    From what little I have seen and know about America and its people I can say that in general the majority are open hearted, kind and welcoming towards others…….the question that needs to be asked is ‘ …are the Muslims willing to reciprocated and change in order to assimilate with the majority ? ‘……I feel the jury is still out on this.Recommend

  • Xahid

    They’re food, they serve their purpose, thats what the whole world do for food every day, Muslims do it as festival in a year. your point is invalid.Recommend

  • Realist

    Is chicken not animal enough to be mourned for? You eat chicken nuggets, burgers, sausage, and a to z chicken dishes all year round, kill other animals to get leather products, why don’t you open your mouth for those animals? Because you are a hypocriteRecommend

  • Alter Ego

    Ever heard of

    KFC
    McDonald
    Burger King
    Expensive Snake Shoes
    Many Others?

    Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Dont ypou kill people who eat cows?
    Are you saying cow meat is more valuable than human life?Recommend

  • HZR

    Does not affect me .Go vegetarian..good for the animal,health and climate…Recommend

  • rationalist

    Yes, I have heard of them. I believe killing and eating animals is equally barbaric. Recommend

  • rationalist

    I am a vegan.Recommend

  • rationalist

    I don’t wear or use leather products. Only man-made synthetics or plant based.Recommend

  • Sane

    Sacrificing animals (Goat, Cow, Bull, Camel etc.) on Eid ul Azha is part of Muslim religion, not to be compromised.Recommend

  • Xahid

    Yea, what so wrong about it? They’re food, they’re not cruelly killed, they’re killed with generosity, love and affection. if you’re vegetation. then you’re on the wrong forum.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    That explains why you think the way that you do.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Please stop.

    The only person who killed enough people to change an area’s climate was Changez Khan and of couese Americans.
    It doesnt matter if you kill them or not.
    You keep them backward.
    Even now you are trying to impose restrictions on Zakir Naik.
    Even if you killed one Muslim per day it would make no difference in the overall population.

    Now on other topic.
    Killing animals for sacrifice is more humane than killing them for shoes,food or their hides.
    As for your question about love,animals cost money.And humans by virtue of their nature love money.We are not really sacrificing an animal we are sacrificing our money to please our God.

    The same way you allow monkeys to roam free and attack humans and steal babies.Recommend

  • vinsin

    So why they are not moving to Pakistan? Why Muslims cannot be Slaughtered? Arent India already got partitioned?
    File a case against Indian PM and prove it – that is not what you will do right?Recommend

  • vinsin

    Then why they dont they move to Pakistan to become forward? Then sacrifice money.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Vegetarians dont eat plants they eat leaves. Muslims do not come under civilized world. Hindu and Buddhists are not vegetarians. Cambodians and Japanese are not vegetarian.Recommend

  • vinsin

    So why they call themselves Muslims? And why they are attacking West?Recommend

  • vinsin

    Prove it. Why Muslims are joining it then?Recommend

  • vinsin

    Eat leaves then. Plants dont have central nervous system.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Eat leaves, dont eat roots.Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    Yes i know and always know that vegan don’t have brain. Because brain is also meat. So the answer about plant is as “Living Thing” was for those fools who don’t like to eat meat because that are from “Living Thing”. You Aristotle!Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Leaves are not plants? Hypocritical nonsenseRecommend