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Muslims Worry Eid Feasts Could Be Misconstrued
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Muslims Worry Eid Feasts Could Be Misconstrued

Religion

Muslims Worry Eid Feasts Could Be Misconstrued

Muslims Worry Eid Feasts Could Be Misconstrued
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Sadia Munir, 34, lights incense before the Eid al-Fitr dinner at their house in Ellicott City, Md. i

Sadia Munir, 34, lights incense before the Eid al-Fitr dinner at their house in Ellicott City, Md., with Musa Munir, 13, and Anjum Munir, 59. For the first time, the feast celebrating the end of Ramadan falls on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Yanina Manolova for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Yanina Manolova for NPR
Sadia Munir, 34, lights incense before the Eid al-Fitr dinner at their house in Ellicott City, Md.

Sadia Munir, 34, lights incense before the Eid al-Fitr dinner at their house in Ellicott City, Md., with Musa Munir, 13, and Anjum Munir, 59. For the first time, the feast celebrating the end of Ramadan falls on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Yanina Manolova for NPR

For the first time, Eid al-Fitr, the feast celebrating the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, this year comes at the same time as the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The timing — in the midst of heightened anti-Islamic sentiments — could not be more awkward for America's Muslims.

Some communities are scaling back their celebrations, or simply postponing them, worried they might be misconstrued.

'Not Something We Planned'

Ramadan follows the lunar calendar. So every year, the month of fasting is about 11 days earlier than it was the previous year. Kashif Munir, a doctor living with his family in Ellicott City, Md., says he hopes non-Muslims understand that.

Kashif Munir and his family gather for dinner during an Eid celebration on Thursday.

The Munir family gathers for dinner during an Eid celebration on Thursday. Yanina Manolova for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Yanina Manolova for NPR

"It's not something we planned," he says. "It just happened to fall that way. Our intention is to celebrate our holiday, not to celebrate 9/11 or anything."

Because Muslims don't get the day off for Eid, they normally celebrate the weekend after. This year, though, mindful of Sept. 11 and the controversy over a proposed Islamic center in New York and a Florida pastor's plan to burn the Quran, Muslims around the country have made Sunday, not Saturday, the day they'll be out having fun.

"I'm sure there are people who are trying to take advantage of Muslims celebrating," says Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, director of outreach at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Northern Virginia.

"So we've said to our community, 'Take that day of Eid or after Eid and make that a day of worship, a day of service, a day of prayer and reflection,' which is a part of what Eid is about," Malik says. "And then for that community gathering, to defer it for another day."

Muslim groups have booked moon bounces, pony rides and even reserved a Six Flags for Sept. 12, knowing ahead of time that organizing these activities for the Saturday would have been inappropriate.

A Family Affair

Munir says he's seen glimpses of hostility from patients he's treated for years.

"Sometimes I'll point out I'm Muslim and how have I treated you these six years I know you. And they're like, 'We didn't mean you, doc,'" he says. "But it's tricky."

As Americans, Munir says, his family marks the Sept. 11 attacks as well. So in between prayer and reflection, there's also a moment of remembrance for the attacks. But Eid is also a time of celebration.

There are nine children tearing about his home. Everyone gets presents, including the grownups. Munir points to his wife, Sadia, moving slowly about the kitchen. She's nine months pregnant and due any moment.

The Munir family prays after dinner.

The Munir family prays after dinner. Yanina Manolova for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Yanina Manolova for NPR

"I had to buy her three gifts — one is for Eid, one is we're going to have a baby and it's our anniversary next week," Kashif Munir says. "I got her a ring, a purse and some perfume or whatever."

The house is full of family. Munir's parents live with them, and his sister Sonia and brother Wuqaas and their children are in from out of town. As they mark the occasion with prayer and platters of food, there's also a sense of relief. Whatever else may happen for Muslims in this country, at least they won't have to deal with this delicate timing issue again for a while.

"The lunar calendar, we won't have to deal with this for another 30 years," Wuqaas Munir says.

Actually, more like 33 years.

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