These young Muslim Americans are disappointed Saudi officials changed Eid al-Adha date


For several months, many Muslim Americans were anxious about Eid al-Adha — one of the two major Islamic holidays — falling on the same date as the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The holiday is in tribute to Abraham's sacrifice to the will of Allah and His mercy. Abraham willingly sacrificed his son, Ishmael, for God. In return, God showed his mercy by intervening and commanding Angel Gabriel to replace Abraham's son with a lamb.

Because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar calendar, official dates of religious observances from Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are based on moon sightings. Yet for the past few years, especially in the aftermaths of 9/11, there are still a lot of ignorant misconceptions of the holiday. 

The state of anxiety alleviated a little, if any, when Saudi Arabian religious authorities announced that they will be postponing the Eid holiday a day back, to Sept. 12, Raw Story reportedOn Sept. 1, Saudi religious officials declared that Eid al-Adha will commence on Sept. 12, claiming that a crescent moon has not been sighted in accordance to the Islamic lunar calendar. 

But Rubab Hyder, an University of Illinois freshman, isn't really buying it.

"It is so unfortunate that people believe that the possibility of Eid occurring on the same day as 9/11 is some revelation of the root of Islam," Hyder told Mic. "I sympathize with Saudi officials who are trying so hard to appease folks to prove they are not terrorists, but I also am angry that they have to cater to unwarranted fear."

Hatem Moussa/AP

Joe Milburn, a Chicago-based law student and convert to the Islamic faith, says it doesn't make sense for Muslims in the Northern Hemisphere to follow the ordinances of Saudi Arabia. Milburn also mentions that while he and numerous other Muslims disapprove of the Saudi government and support movements that reform the Kingdom, it doesn't make much sense to follow their decrees when a religious holiday commences.

"I will say that it is preposterous to base moon sightings on that of another country," Milburn told Mic. "Since North America and Saudi Arabia are on separate hemispheres, it is important for us to follow the sightings based on the leaders in our respective communities."

Hadi Mizban/AP

Milburn does have a point. According to Islamic tradition, before the invention of technology, moon sightings were based off of the advice of local community leaders. Milburn said he will choose to celebrate the Eid holiday when Muslims in North America do.

"Regardless of whether Saudi Arabia purposely changed the date or not, I will still follow what the community in North America does in the interest of maintaining unity with them."

Hoda Katebi, an Iranian-American activist and fashion blogger at Joo Jooazad, expressed her frustration of being associated with the actions of individuals ever since Sept. 11, 2001.

She did not mince her words.

"Moving a holiday because it aligns with a day that a nutcase who has nothing to do with me tragically destroyed a building is utterly absurd," Katebi told Mic. "If I am forced to take responsibility for the actions of anyone who claims a similar identity as me, I'll be patiently waiting for white America to cancel all their holidays because they align with drone strikes, assassinations, backed coups, lynchings, massacres, KKK members' birthdays, etc."

K.M. Chaudary/AP

Katebi's perspective is reflective of the journey of many young Muslim Americans in celebrating, defining and defending their identity in the new age of Islamophobia and extremism. 

Manal Omar, associate vice president of the Middle East and Africa Center at the United States Institute of Peace, says that pushback by young Muslim Americans is significant in the battle of identities in this particular moment.

"It's important for Muslims worldwide to feel the spirituality in their practice, and the constant posturing of being on the defensive from extremists will be a defining attitude toward the current generation of Muslim youth," Omar told Mic