Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Both Thanksgiving and Eid al-Adha Focus on Family, Sharing

By Nihad Awad
Nov. 24, 2009

Many American Muslims will eat their turkey a bit late in the day this year because Thanksgiving falls on the same day some Muslims fast until sunset in observance of the Day of Arafah, the spiritual peak of the annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca.

Arafah is a hill called "Mount of Mercy" and its surrounding empty plain near Mecca. On this climax of the Hajj season millions of pilgrims of all races and backgrounds, including thousands of Americans, will assemble for supplication to God. This is a physical representation of universal equality and the unity of humankind.

American Muslims have a double blessing this year. They are marking both events, Thanksgiving and the end of Hajj, with activities that stress sharing with others and the importance of family to people of all faiths.

The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Muslims in that state to volunteer at a soup kitchen as a way to celebrate Thanksgiving and the end of the Hajj. CAIR’s Cincinnati chapter is giving food packages, including turkeys, to needy families.

Thanksgiving week, the Muslims Against Hunger Project is organizing special "Muslims Serve" days to recall the ultimate sacrifice the Prophet Abraham was prepared to make and to offer thanks for God's many blessings.

Hajj and Thanksgiving were also combined in a New Jersey food giveaway for the needy on Sunday in Plainfield, N.J., at the Center of Islamic Enlightenment.

In Mississippi, scores of Muslim volunteers gave up their free time to feed the hungry and homeless in areas particularly hard hit by the national recession.

Muslim university students in North Carolina this year donated food to groups that feed the hungry. While in California, Muslims joined Jews, Buddhists, Baha'is, and Catholics at an interfaith Thanksgiving celebration in a synagogue.Muslims in Iowa, along with representatives of nine other faith traditions, attended the annual Inter-Religious Council Thanksgiving Prayer Service in Cedar Rapids.

In Georgia, Christians, Muslims and Jews came together to share a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. Proceeds from the dinner went to a local food bank.

On Friday, Muslims in America and worldwide will celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Adha, or "festival of the sacrifice." "Eid" also commemorates the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God's command. The holiday is celebrated with prayers, gifts for children, distribution of meat to the needy, and social gatherings.You may hear the greeting “Eid Mubarak,” or “have a blessed holiday.”

And you know Thanksgiving and Eid al-Adha are now sharing the same spiritual and social space when Best Buy, for the first time, puts a "Happy Eid Al-Adha" in its "Black Friday" newspaper insert.

As with Thanksgiving, Eid al-Adha is a time when everyone counts their blessings and offers thanks for friends and family, even if circumstances may not be the best in any particular year.

"The first to be summoned to paradise on the Day of Resurrection will be those who praise God in prosperity and adversity," said the Prophet Muhammad.

Just as Thanksgiving is a time of family and friends, so too is Eid al-Adha. The Prophet Muhammad told the early Muslims, "[T]hey are days of [eating] and rejoicing with one's family."

The Quran, Islam's revealed text, urges those who reach physical and spiritual maturity to pray: "My Lord! Grant me the grace that I may thank you for the favors that You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do good deeds that will please You."

So this year, despite a weak but recovering economy and other domestic and international troubles, let us all count our blessings and demonstrate true thankfulness by sharing whatever we have with those in need.

(Nihad Awad is national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America's largest Muslim civil rights organization. He may be contacted at: nawad@cair.com.)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Nihad Awad: Fort Hood Shooting 'Sensless killing'

U.S. Muslim Group Urges Calm After Fort Hood Shootings

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/5/09) At a news conference tonight on Capitol Hill, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:

“We reiterate the American Muslim community’s condemnation of this cowardly attack. Right now, we call on all Americans to assist those who are responding to this atrocity. We must ensure that the wounded are treated and the families of those who were murdered have an opportunity to mourn.

“No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted our nation’s all-volunteer army that includes thousands of Muslims in all services. We again offer our thoughts and prayers for the victims and sincere condolences for the families of those killed or injured.

“The motive of the attacker is not yet known. We urge all Americans to remain calm in reaction to this tragic event and to demonstrate once again what is best about America –- our nation’s ability to remain unified even in times of crisis. We urge national political and religious leaders and media professionals to set a tone of calm and unity.

“Unfortunately, based on past experience, we also urge American Muslims, and those who may be perceived to be Muslim, to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves, their families and their religious institutions from possible backlash.

“We ask that individuals and institutions review advice on security procedures contained in CAIR’s ‘Muslim Community Safety Kit,’ which is available online at www.cair.com.”

SEE: CAIR Muslim Community Safety Kit

Along with innumerable condemnations of terror, CAIR has in the past launched an online anti-terror petition drive called “Not in the Name of Islam,” initiated a television public service announcement (PSA) campaign against religious extremism and coordinated a “fatwa,” or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism and extremism.

SEE: CAIR’s Anti-Terrorism Campaigns

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

HBO Asked to Apologize for ‘Curb’ Episode Mocking Jesus

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/29/09) - A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today called on HBO to apologize for an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in which the main character splattered urine on a painting of Jesus.

SEE: Larry David Blasted for 'Curb' Episode Where He Urinates on Jesus Painting

In a letter to HBO Chairman and CEO Bill Nelson, Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote:

“It is beyond tasteless to insult the religious sensibilities of billions of people in America and around the world with such a cheap and vulgar publicity stunt. Jesus, peace be upon him, is loved and revered by both Christians and Muslims. Muslims view him as one of God's greatest messengers to mankind.

“The Quran, Islam’s revealed text, states: ‘Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.’’ (The Holy Quran, 3:45)

“The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Both in this world and in the hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.’

“We understand the drive for ratings, but no one benefits from such a crude attempt to boost the network’s bottom line by manufacturing a religious controversy. HBO should apologize.”

Awad added that American Muslim television viewers contacted CAIR to express their concerns about the HBO episode.