American Muslims on edge as Eidul Azha looks set to fall on September 11

Published: August 30, 2016
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PHOTO: FILE/REUTERS

PHOTO: FILE/REUTERS

The prospect of Eidul Azha coinciding with the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has stirred apprehension among Muslims across the United States, The New York Times reported.

This comes at a time when brutalities committed by religious extremists have provoked inflammatory political rhetoric and helped fuel a surge in hate crimes against Muslims. Now, the possibility of Eidul Azha falling on September 11 has only intensified security concerns across the community.

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Habeeb Ahmed, who was recently elected president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, first noticed the potentially fraught coincidence two months ago. “Some people might want to make something out of that. I can easily foresee how some might misunderstand the festivities, and say, look at these Muslims, they are celebrating 9/11,” he said.

“Eidul Azha honours the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismail (PBUH) as an act of submission to God’s command. The holy day can also serve as an opportunity to honour the sacrifice of those who were killed on September 11, 2001,” said Abdul Bhuiyan, the secretary-general of the Majlis Ashura, the Islamic Leadership Council of New York. “It’s a day of remembrance and observance,” he said.

“It’s on the mind of every Muslim leader in the country right now,” said Robert McCaw, the director of government affairs at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We grieved like everyone else. We remember this day not because we are Muslim, but because we are American,” he added, referring to the September 11 attacks.

Nevertheless, local and national Muslim officials have urged imams and other leaders to talk to authorities and ensure that security is in place for the holiday, Bhuiyan said. “In New York City, the police have already been providing additional security at many mosques,” he said.

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Tahir Kukiqi, the imam at the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center on Staten Island, said concerns about a potential backlash around the holiday resonated on a personal level. In June, a man entered Kukiqi’s mosque shouting expletives and yelling, “I am going to kill you” and “You are here to conquer us.”

The man grabbed a pipe from the wall and threatened the imam. As Kukiqi called 911, the man dropped the pipe and ran away. A suspect was later arrested and faced hate crime charges. “There is a lot of hate out there,” Kukiqi said. “And there is a lot of ignorance as well. This year’s Eidul Azha sermon will be more somber than in previous years,” he added.

“We will be praying for their souls,” Kukiqi said, referring to the September 11 victims. We will be praying for the well-being of our country,” he said. Talking about the prospect of the Muslim holy day falling on September 11 he said, “We need to be mindful of it, but at the same time not be overburdened to the degree that it paralyzes the community.”

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Shamsi Ali, the imam at the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens, said his congregation still intended to host its outdoor prayer service, expected to attract 20,000 people, one of the largest gatherings in New York City. Ali, along with several other imams in the city, plans to invite non-Muslim neighbours and religious leaders to attend services and learn about the significance of the holiday, while also praying for the September 11 victims. “If people are trying to build walls, we are building bridges,” Ali said. “That’s really what New York is all about,” he said.

In the past, another major Muslim holiday, Eidul Fitr, has fallen near September 11, but neither holidays have actually coincided.

This article originally appeared on the The New York Times.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Irfan
    Aug 30, 2016 - 2:39PM

    Well, I think they should celebrate it with Pakistan for an excuse. Either it would fall on September 10th (Peshawari Eid) or September 12th (Mufti Muneedb’s), otherwise Saudi Arab’s Eid would be on September 11. Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 30, 2016 - 4:11PM

    As true patriotic Americans, Muslims living in America should not celebrate Eid on September 11. It’s common that we Muslims do not celebrate any happy occasion when there is death in the family. If Muslims of America believe that they are part of American family, they should avoid it. However sun can dawn from west, Muslims cannot integrate in Western society. They will prove it on coming September 11.Recommend

  • Tp
    Aug 30, 2016 - 4:38PM

    Just keep a long face on that day and wear your customary black dresses.
    {But no black flags !!)Recommend

  • Shahjehanpuri
    Aug 30, 2016 - 9:44PM

    @Ch. Allah Daad, it is clear you lack any sort of religious knowledge. Who are you to say Muslims should not celebrate Eid? Period. Secondly, only in Pakistan, Pakistani will celebrate everything non-religious and not celebrate a commanded occasion just because something bad happened. Wonder if you follow Islam or your ‘culture’.Recommend

  • Babur Khan
    Aug 30, 2016 - 10:34PM

    No ones “On the edge” here and Eid ul Adha is NOT on September 11.
    Stop exaggerating ET :)Recommend

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