To kill a sheep or donate? The dilemma of Muslims on Eid

Eid is traditionally a holiday during which a Muslim is expected to slaughter a sheep, however there is a growing problem surrounding the holiday due to the limited capacity of slaughterhouses in France. Only one hundred machines would be approved in France as appropriate for slaughter. As a result, the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) once again recommended that communities spread the days of slaughter out (Saturday, Sunday and Monday). However, many believers are reluctant to change.

The price of sheep has sharply increased due to the lack of slaughterhouses. Abdallah Zekri, a member of the CFCM has for the second time launched a boycott of the purchase of sheep, saying that it “seems to be followed” this year. “I don’t mind shearing the sheep, but not the Muslims,” he said.

Influential blogger and specialist in the halal market, Fateh Kimouche stated that “One cannot, for reasons that are purely economic…burden our religion with debt.” He contended that Muslims “contribute to the survival of French agriculture” by injecting “about 50 million Euros” into the industry during Eid. “If we really want to help Gaza–and there is not only Gaza [to help]–give more, but do not neglect this rite.”

Expectations and reactions ahead of the German Islam Conference

January 30, 2014

 

Muslims associations and German State authorities will be meeting this year at the annual German Islam Conference to continue the debate about Muslim life in German society. The German Islam Conference was initiated in 2006 by former Minister of Interior Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU). One if the issues will be the implementation of an official Muslim holiday. The speaker of the Turkish community Kenan Kolat raised the importance of an official holiday as “an important signal to the Muslim population”. Kolat appreciated the openness of the designated Minister Thomas De Maizière (CDU) for dialogue, criticizing the conservative attitude of his predecessor Friedrich. The designated Minister of Interior is said to meet representatives of Muslims associations including the Turkish community, the Alevi community and Islamic cultural centers next week, discussing upcoming issues. 

 

Sefi Ögütlü, General-Secretary of the Islamic cultural centers underlined the relevance to open a new chapter. Bekir Alboga, representative of the Turkish Islamic Union Institute for Islamic religion (DITIB) emphasized his optimism. The new Minister would show an appropriate attitude towards the Islamic communities.  Yilmaz Kahraman, representative of the Alevi community in Germany criticized the ineffectiveness of former conferences, which would have left no concrete results but brochures and leaflets. Kahraman called Muslims not to ask what the State may be able to do for them, but look at ways for Muslims to contribute to society and avoid parallel structures.

 

 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/vor-treffen-zu-islamkonferenz-tuerkische-gemeinde-will-gesetzlichen-muslimfeiertag-12768940.html

 

Central council of Muslims: http://islam.de/23250

Michigan Republican Dave Agema under fire again for questioning contributions of American Muslims

January 14, 2014

 

Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema is under fire this week for another controversial Facebook post — this one questioning the contribution of Muslims in American society.

Agema, in a Facebook communication dated January 9, shared with his followers an old internet attack piece comparing Catholics to Muslims.

“Even if you’re not Catholic you may find this eye opening,” Agema wrote.

He then copy-and-pasted an anonymous blog post that has circulated on the web and through email for years. It highlights charity work of the Catholic church before posting a series of questions about Muslim heritage.

“Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?” it asked.
While Agema’s post generated upwards of 40 “likes” on Facebook, it also prompted a series of critical responses on the social media network.

Republican political consultant Joe Munem replied to Agema in a Facebook post of his own, highlighting the contributions of his father, Mustafa Munem, who heads the math department at Macomb Community College.

“My muslim father, an internationally published author, 52 year math professor, business owner and gentleman farmer has done far more to contribute positively to the American way of life than you ever will,” Munem wrote.

As a state representative, the Grandville Republican introduced a bill seeking to ban the implementation of foreign laws, such as Islamic Sharia. Critics said the legislation unnecessary and could fuel anti-Muslim paranoia. It did not pass.

Agema made headlines in recent months for a series of inflammatory andinaccurate statements he made about the gay community on Facebook, conservative radio and a Berrien County GOP holiday party. While many prominent Republicans rebuked his statements, they stopped short of calling for his resignation.

MLIVE.com: http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/01/michigan_republican_dave_agema.html

Muslim Christmas Celebrations Gain Footing In America

December 24, 2013

By Omar Sacirbey

 

RNS – A generation or two ago, when America’s Muslims were new immigrants who made up an even smaller minority of Americans than they do today, the lights, trees, carols, gifts and festive spirit of Christmas were viewed by many Muslims as a threat to their children’s Islamic faith.

But these days, a growing number of Muslims celebrate Christmas, or at least partake in some ways, even if they don’t decorate their homes with trees and a light show. Indeed, many Muslim families have created their own unique Christmas traditions.

“I teach my three children, who attend public school and happen to be born into an interfaith Christian-Muslim family, that we absolutely do celebrate Christmas because we are Muslim,” Hannah Hawk of Houston wrote in an email. Rather than putting up a tree or lights, “we celebrate the reason for the season, Jesus, by studying all that is written about him in the Quran and by examining historical theories.”

The Hawks also give to charity, bake treats for neighbors, invite them to dinner, and wish friends, colleagues and teachers “Merry Christmas” with cards and phone calls. Hawk’s kids get together with Christian friends to perform various good deeds. This year, they will play songs (violins, viola, trumpet, cellos, bells) at a local community hospital for patients recovering from surgery.

To be sure, some Muslim leaders still criticize Christmas celebrations as assimilation gone too far.

Imam Muzammil Siddiqi, a former president of the Islamic Society of North America, has argued that Muslims should not celebrate Christmas because the holiday commemorates the birth of a figure revered by Christians as the Son of God, which violates Islamic beliefs.

“We should tell our children that we are Muslims and this is not our holiday,” Siddiqi said in comments posted at the website OnIslam.net. “This is the holiday of our Christian neighbors and friends.”

To protect their children from the attraction of Christmas, he said, Muslim parents should take advantage of Islamic camps and conferences established at this time of year for this very reason.

But others see a new generation of Muslims born or reared in the United States who feel secure enough to view Christmas as another tradition they can relate to, and to celebrate it in a wide variety of ways — as do their Christian neighbors.

“Muslims should join their Christian neighbors to celebrate Christmas,” said Rizwan Kadir, a financial adviser who is active in his Muslim community in suburban Chicago. “We also believe in Isa,” Kadir added, using the Arabic name for Jesus, “and he has a very special place in Islam.”

While Muslims don’t believe Jesus was crucified or that he is part of the triune Godhead, they do believe in the Virgin birth, and claim Jesus as a prophet — a predecessor to Muhammad — who ascended to heaven, and will return as part of the Second Coming.

Kadir adds that Muslims shouldn’t retreat from Christmas festivities. His family doesn’t put up a tree or lights, but Kadir does go to holiday parties at work, wishes friends and neighbors a “Merry Christmas,” and watches “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and “Home Alone” — a Kadir family tradition.

“To me, those are just fun things that people do around this time of year,” said Kadir. “It doesn’t make you a Christian. It doesn’t mean you’re compromising your faith.”

That view, however, has taken time to evolve.

Zeyna Ahmed, the American-born daughter of Egyptian parents, remembers that her mother liked some aspects of Christmas. But her father “stifled it.”

“Their way of holding on to their heritage was just pushing everything that was Muslim,” said Ahmed, who lives in Easton, Pa.

When her four children started asking why the family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, she felt it wasn’t adequate to say, “because we’re Muslim,” since “we also believe in Jesus,” Ahmed said.

So, for the last seven years, Ahmed, who is divorced, has celebrated Christmas with a tree, lights, and acts of charity. She also gets a menorah for Hanukkah and cooks a big meal on the last night.

“I want to expose them to different traditions,” Ahmed said, referring to her kids. “I feel like if you respect their holidays, they’ll respect our holidays. It develops mutual respect.”

Hawk agreed. “Christmas, like Ramadan, is the perfect interfaith footbridge for Muslim-Christian fellowship,” she wrote. “Both are the perfect times to hold interfaith vigils, pray together for peace, and pledge to uphold God’s message to spread goodwill and reach out to and help the less fortunate in our society.”

Some Islamic leaders have come on board, too.

Imam Talal Eid of Quincy, Mass., a former member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, cited the 13th verse of the Quran’s 49th chapter, which states that God created “peoples and tribes that you may know one another.”

And, he added, at a time when some Christians and Jews in America have fasted in solidarity with Muslims during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims should reciprocate.

“This is not about theological details,” said Eid. “This is a matter of fellowship and social activity. There is nothing wrong with exchanging gifts and participating.”

 

Religion News Service/Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/24/muslim-christmas-celebrations_n_4494836.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

Halloween in Schools: “A Holiday Like any other?”

October 29, 2013

 

“Halloween is a holiday that appeals to children and celebrated in all the schools.” However a school in Tavernerio tries to diminish the controversy triggered by the statements of Father Agostino Clerici who at first sharply criticized the Halloween party at the primary school and then, on his blog, argued with a teacher who “stated the school’s intention to allow a recitation on the occasion of Christmas, but avoid naming Jesus, in order to comply with two Muslim students.”

“Halloween is a holiday like any other and is celebrated in all the schools. As for Christmas, Jesus and the crib have a different meaning for non-Catholic boys from the Muslim world,” says Samuela Romanò, Vice Executive of the school.

 

La Provincia: http://www.laprovinciadicomo.it/stories/Cronaca/halloween-a-scuola-festa-come-unaltra_1030053_11/

Muslim families push Montgomery County for school holiday to mark Eid al-Adha

October 14, 2013

 

Muslim families in Montgomery County are pushing to make the Islamic holy day Eid al-Adha a full-fledged school holiday.

Muslim leaders have started a petition in recent weeks and have won support from some elected leaders and religious groups. Montgomery County has a growing Islamic population, though there are no county or census figures on the Muslim community.

This year, the Eid al-Adha holiday falls on Tuesday. Some families plan to keep their children home from school, even though they will miss classes and sporting events. But they point out that school is closed for Christmas, Good Friday, Easter and for the Jewish holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

“It’s like we don’t feel equal to other people who get their holidays off,” said Hannah Sharim, 14, who is a sophomore at Northwest High School in Germantown.

Former state legislator and co-chair of the new Equality for Eid Coalition Saqib Ali said this is a civil rights issue.

School officials said they give excused absences to students who are absent for religious holidays but that they can’t legally close schools for religious reasons. They said granting a day off requires a secular reason, such as minimizing the impact on instruction because of high absenteeism rates on a holiday.

The school board asked staff to examine attendance on Muslim holidays last year, but the numbers showed little impact on attendance.

In the 1970s, Montgomery schools began giving students the day off for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

“Our understanding is that decision was made for operational reasons,” schools spokeswoman Dana Tofig said.

Muslim leaders object to the county’s focus on absenteeism to justify an official day off. Some families have often sent their children to school on the religious holiday so that they wouldn’t miss instructional time. But leaders said Christian and Jewish holidays haven’t been under the same scrutiny.

“We think it’s not right when there are different standards for different people,” Ali said.

 

The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/muslim-families-push-montgomery-county-for-school-holiday-to-mark-eid-al-adha/2013/10/14/82d971cc-34d8-11e3-89db-8002ba99b894_story.html

Muslims open doors and invite the public at the day of German reunification

October 3rd

 

Since October 3rd 1997, the official reunification day of Germany and a public holiday, Islamic organizations and associations held the “day of open doors”. Mosques and Islamic centers all over Germany open doors to invite and gather Muslims and non-Muslims for better inter-religious and cultural understanding. They organize exhibitions, concerts, information desks and discussions. Since 2007, the coordination council of Muslims acts as the patron of this day initiative. The slogan of the event of this year was called “ecology and environmental protection”. Muslims associations aim to show the German public how challenges such as climate change and pollution are of concern of all citizens independent of their religious affiliation.

 

Somali-American man convicted in 2010 Portland, Ore., Christmas bomb plot apologizes

PORTLAND, Ore. — A young Somali-American man convicted of plotting to bomb a 2010 Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland’s town square has written an apology letter in advance of his sentencing and says he renounces his former beliefs.

In the letter filed Friday by his lawyers in federal court, Mohamed Mohamud offers to speak to young Muslims “to help keep them away from the path of extremism” and tells U.S. District Judge Garr King he turned to books to help himself “walk a better path.” His reading list ranges from “The Grapes of Wrath” to President Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” to “A Zombie Apocalypse.”

Mohamud was arrested Nov. 26, 2010, after pressing a button on a cellphone that he believed would detonate a 1,800-pound diesel-and-fertilizer bomb near thousands of people at the annual holiday gathering.

The bomb was a fake supplied by undercover FBI agents posing as al-Qaida recruiters.

What imams talk about during Eid

In their holiday Eid al-Fitr khutbas, or sermons, on Thursday (Aug. 8) many imams across the country noted a growing climate of acceptance in America, but urged Muslims not to forget the problems facing their communities in the U.S. and overseas.

 

“The Eid khutba is like the State of the Union address,” said Oklahoma-born convert Suhaib Webb, imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the biggest mosque in New England, to an overflowing crowd — men dressed in crisp robes, tunics, and three-piece suits, women in black abayas, long floral wraps, and colorful headscarves.

 

“Our community is at a unique crossroads,” Webb said, issuing a call for older Muslim generations to allow younger generations to have greater roles in community affairs. “There are a lot of young people with a lot of excitement, and a lot of old people with a lot of fear. And that’s not a healthy thing.”

 

Muzammil Siddiqi, the imam at the Islamic Society of Orange County (Calif.) and a member of the Fiqh Council of North America, urged Eid worshippers to be involved in civic affairs. He said they should support pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants, protest government surveillance policies, and participate in the NAACP’s anti-racism program.

 

While Islamophobia is still a potent force in America, Siddiqi said, Muslim efforts to become more engaged in American public life has led to greater acceptance by the broader American public.

Indeed, many Muslim observed Eid doing good work projects. In Washington state, some 4,000 Muslims were expected to visit non-Muslim neighbors offering holiday greetings and gifts.

The U.S. Postal Service has unveiled a stamp commemorating Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the twin Muslim holy days.

The stamp, designed by Ventura, Calif.-born calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya, was first issued in 2001, and reissued a few times since. It features gold calligraphy that spells out “Eid Mubarek” in Arabic, the traditional greeting meaning, “May your religious festival be blessed.”

Some congregations celebrating Eid were much smaller, but showed an increasingly diverse Muslim-American landscape. The Los Angeles chapter of Muslims for Progressive Values was expecting several dozen worshippers at its Eid service, where the khutba was going to be given by a young gay member of the community.

As in years past, many imams focused on Muslim’s struggles abroad.

700 Muslims attend the End of Ramadan Festivities in Legnano

August 8, 2013

 

Despite the bad weather this morning, 700 Muslims “invaded” the sports field on via dell’Amicizia in Legnano to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

The event, for the second year in a row, was organized by the Cultural Italian-Arab Association of Legnano. The association was founded in 2005 and is chaired by Mustapha Lhamid.

Men, women and children, arrived around 8 o’clock in the morning; they gathered on the green to celebrate Eid Al-Iftar, the party that for the end of the period of reflection which takes place during the ninth month of the year, according to the Islamic lunar calendar.

The rain did not stop people from praying. In fact, all those present were positioned facing Mecca, creating a real human “carpet.”

The second most important holiday of the Islamic religion was meticulously planned: “At dawn they placed carpets and loudspeakers” says Lhamid “this was done in order to avoid discomfort similar to how we operate in the cultural center, also some volunteers pointed people to where to park their cars. After the speech of Imam and the time of prayer, came the time to celebrate all together, to share.”

Ramadan is a time of fasting and prayer: “The event taking place today is the celebration of the end of Ramadan, one of the two most important holidays in the Islamic religion” says the Lhamid. “Today, as last year, we welcome many of the faithful who are coming from neighboring countries. Until now we have never had any problems in our city. Ours is an association open to dialogue: in fact, we have also collaborated with many other Italian organizations. Multiculturalism is among our goals and that is why we are ready to get involved and participate in events organized by other local associations.”