Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eid Mubarak!

"A blessed festival" and conclusion to Ramadan to all my Muslim friends.

I put up my main Ramadan post for this year a few days ago, but here are a few stories for the end of the month of prayer, fasting, and charity.

Noting that mobile apps can now inform users of fasting times, mosque locations, and sellers of halal goods, The Economist marked the end of the holiday with a piece on Muslims' use of digital technology as a whole, observing that they "have embraced the internet and smartphones just as the rest of the world has—and, in some ways, even more." It's part of a trio of pieces on Islam, the others of which deal with religious observance and changing attitudes toward alcohol.

President Obama sent greetings on the occasion of the Eid:
Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world as they celebrate Eid-al-Fitr. For Muslims, Ramadan has been a time of fasting, prayer and spiritual renewal. These past four weeks have also been a time to serve the less fortunate -- a reminder of the obligations that people of all faiths have to each other.
In the United States, Eid-al-Fitr speaks to the truth that communities of faith -- including Muslim Americans -- enrich our national life, strengthen our democracy and uphold our freedoms, including the freedom of religion. That is why the we stand with people of all faiths, in the United States and around the world, in protecting and advancing this universal human right.
On behalf of the American people, we congratulate Muslim Americans and Muslims around the world on this joyous day. Eid Mubarak.
The Empire State Building, as has been the custom since 2007, turned on its green lights to mark the holiday.

One of the things that struck me this year was the number of comments to the effect that people had found in their friends and neighbors, and in America as a whole, such a supportive and welcoming environment in which to undertake the fast and celebrate the holiday. Among the stories in that vein was this report of a Virginia synagogue opening its space to Muslims whose mosque was too small to accommodate all the worshipers.  (Of course there are the regrettable exceptions. The title of this Huffington Post article speaks for itself: "Hank Williams Jr.: Obama Is 'A Muslim President Who Hates Farming, Hates The Military, Hates The U.S. And We Hate Him'.")

In the Palestinian Authority, residents of Ramallah filled the streets to shop and relax, taking advantage of the calm and their relative prosperity despite general concerns over economic and political stagnation. Meanwhile, in the neighboring territories still under Israeli control, "Activists in 'Land of Peace', a movement of settlers and Palestinians acting for good neighborly relations," offered candy and holiday greetings to Muslim shoppers and construction workers. As one participant said, "Who knows, maybe hope will come from this." It won't solve the problem, but it is certainly a sentiment in the spirit of the holiday.

[Update: updated image]

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