America celebrates Eid: Outstanding examples of national unity and cohesion
America celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr over the weekend to mark the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. New York’s State Empire building glowed green in celebration with the city’s sizeable Muslim population, a tradition that has been carried on for several years. Here in Dallas, 20 thousand Muslims gathered in downtown Dallas to celebrate by praying and attending a public sermon. Across the DFW metroplex, Islamic centers and mosques were packed with thousands of worshipers celebrating the day of Eid.
There are about 35 mosques in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Mike Ghouse wrote on his daily Ramadan blog. A member of the Texas Faith Panel at the Dallas Morning News and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Ghouse is a prolific Muslim writer, public speaker, activist, and initiator. He maintains over 27 blogs and four websites, indexed at www.mikeghouse.net, mostly around the subjects of pluralism, interfaith movement, justice, politics, Islam, India, hope, and world peace. This Ramadan, Ghouse has visited over 15 mosques where he broke his fast and socialized with Muslim communities.
Mike Ghouse has initiated the Ramadan mosque tours in 2010 and today, his blog statistics reflect over 6000 national daily hits, with additional thousands worldwide. This year, he has visited diverse Muslim communities, like Sunni, Shia, and Ahmadi congregations. He noticed a few differences within the different Muslim traditions, but the fundamentals of the faith were one: belief in One God and in His last prophet, Muhammad. Ghouse even visited a church and a Sikh congregation commemorating the Wisconsin shootings. This model of intrafaith (relations within one faith) and interfaith (relations between different faiths) deserves a big applaud because it reflects a tradition of pluralism and tolerance, which are both intrinsically rooted in both Muslim and American ethics.
Ghouse is also a pioneer in a DFW yearly event, 9/11 Unity Day: "On this Unity Day USA, we, the people of the United States of America of every faith, race and ethnicity, will gather to express our commitment to co-existence, safety, prosperity and the well being of our nation. As Americans we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our constitution. All our faiths reinforce the creed of "One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all”. This year's Unity Day is on Tuesday, September 11, 2012, at 11:30 a.m., at Unity of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane, Dallas, TX 75230.
During Ramadan this year, the DFW community has been witness to some serious interfaith relations; the Rev. Wess Magruder with Rowlett’s United Methodist church decided to fast Ramadan with his Muslim friends. For 30 days, the pastor blogged about his experience, reflecting on the spirituality of connecting with God through acts of worship, especially fasting. He has compared Islam with Methodism which was quiet educational for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Muslims found his reflections inspirational because they represented their worship experiences from a fresh angle. Methodists from Rev. Magruder’s congregations
have been supportive of their pastor and have also learned about Islam from within a fresh perspective.
Commenting on the last post, Jim wrote “I have learned a lot through your posts during your fast, but I have to say that this one is absolutely brilliant. I printed off a copy to keep in my Bible to help me focus on Jesus’ real message to us.” Bill, on the other hand, applauded his pastor by commenting: “I think what you’ve done is a mark of a true leader, Wes. It is great that you have taken your space in this world and shown how others can/must do the same with theirs. And isn’t this how we are given to understand it works? One authentic person gives rein to his heart, stands and says this is the way forward and finds his message spread ’round the world. I love Methodism, and you are a great credit to it.”
So what does Eid mean to those who celebrate it? It reflects thanksgiving to God who promised forgiveness and blessings to those who submit to His will and follow His commandments by doing good and refraining from evil. It celebrates humanity and its main characteristic, self control. There is no one way to celebrate Eid as Muslim diversity is reflected in cultural traditions, but there is a common aspect of Eid that all Muslims (along with their non-Muslim friends who are sharing the experience) share: a sense of a new beginning. After fasting a whole month in submission to God, Muslims are happy to start a fresh year, building community relations and aspiring to maintaining spiritual and ethical principles throughout the year.
To Wes, Mike, and everyone in DFW, many wishes for Eid Mubarak (Blessed holiday) and for a peaceful year. Amen.