Celebrating the Feast of Eid

As Ramadan comes to a close, Muslims the world over are celebrating Eid-al-Fitr, the day that marks the end of Islam’s holiest month.

Some world leaders are sending their greetings on this holiday:

British PM Tony Blair had some lovely things to say: “The celebration of Eid also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the positive impact that Islam has had in Britain and the rest of the world. Islamic art, science and philosophy have enriched all our lives over centuries. And, of course, British Muslims have contributed hugely to this country’s success, prosperity and culture. This is something we can all celebrate.”

South African President Thabo Mbeke offered a pleasant message as well: “As the Islamic Community celebrates Eid, marking the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa join me in conveying warm greetings and wishing you a joyous celebration and continued good health and happiness as well as prosperity.”

Naturally, Dubya Bush limited his remarks to religious believers: “I encourage people of all faiths to reflect on our shared values: love of family, gratitude to God, a commitment to religious freedom and respect for the diversity that adds to our nation’s strength. By working together to advance peace and mutual understanding, we help build a future of promise and compassion for all.” Nice words, but they ring hollow to these ears. What, pray tell, does the Shrub do to work for peace (killing doesn’t count), respect diversity, and advance mutual understanding? And why does he never seem to speak to his nonreligious constituents?

Sadly, as feasts and family gatherings are held to mark this wonderful day, for many, sadness prevails. This is especially true in Baghdad, which has endured so much that this day does not feel like a holiday to many Muslims.

Thousands of people gathered at Baghdad’s Abu Hanifa mosque to offer prayers. US military helicopters clattered low overhead, keeping watch over the city following a series of small explosions earlier in the day and amid widespread security after three US soldiers were killed in two separate attacks on Sunday.

“I don’t think of this as Eid. If the Americans left and there was a new government, with law and order, then every day would be Eid,” said Abdel Wadoud Doukhi as he left the mosque. US forces are on high alert for an intensification of attacks following the end of Ramadan.

My wish for my Muslim brothers and sisters and for us all on Eid-al-Fitr and every day: Peace. Goodwill. Love.

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