Celebrating the Edi at the shopping Mecca of the world
Last Friday, Ramadan the glorious fasting month for Muslims has finally come to an end, no more day fasting, no more anticipation of Iftar (breaking fast) under the big tent at Marina Grill, no more sweets Katife, Konafah, and no more Majoul dates to break the day fast, and no more spending the night drinking tea and shooting the breeze under the bright moon, as our conversation spiced up by the sweet flavored hookah smoke. This is the Muslim tea party. Ramadan, 30 days of cleansing of our bodies and our souls, and a yearly reminder to rid ourselves of all excessiveness in life. Now it is time for Muslims in America to go out there and unapologetically celebrate the end of Ramadan feast, Eid El Futr; after living through the paranoia of the “Ground Zero Mosque” Intifada , and the wrath of Pastor Jones; our modern Moses, descending on us in Florida with the eleventh commandment, “we shall burn the Qura’n”; for lots of Muslim Americans this Eid celebration was a welcomed diversion. I went to share with some Muslim Americans the celebration of the biggest Muslims event of the year, Eid El Futr. I rushed in the heavy morning traffic and visited several Mosques in the twin cities, more than 1000 of miles away from “ground zero” . The Eid celebration started with an early Morning Prayer at the Mosque. Before entering the gender segregated praying area, everyone started taking off their shoes, not for an airport like security reason, but no outside impurity is allowed inside the mosque, Target plastic bag was provided for those who didn’t want to leave their shoes by the door, (Is Target corporation sponsoring this Eid event) People line up quietly and sit-down in rows on the carpeted floor, elders may use chairs to sit-down if they can’t go through the up and down kneeling ritual required for praying. After a brief chanting of god’s greatness … “Allah Akbar, Allah Akber, (God is greater) they began the short Eid prayer, then comes the part that Muslim endure and suffer every time they go to a Mosque, the Imam Sermon -for that alone most Muslim should go to heaven – the bearded Imam stood up grabbed the Microphone and desperately tried to keep everyone quit and shouted at those who were abounding him and leaving the praying area, “the sermon is required and it is part of Eid prayer, brothers and sisters”, he desperately informed the crowd, as he was losing his audience quickly, especially those sitting in the back rows and closer to the escape exit, the Imam started his sermon, much to most people surprise it was all in Arabic, the language of prophet but not the language of most people in the Mosque. The Imam is pretending to speak and the people are pretending to listen, the sermon was a long series of divine threats to those who don’t pray, don’t fast, or don’t give charities. I left for another nearby Mosque for another late Eid praying shift, the parking lot was packed with cars, as the local police on the lookout, organizing the late comers, I quickly rushed inside, kids with their new bright color cloth were running all over the Mosque joyfully celebrating their Eid, in the noise chaotic hall, the sermon has already begun, and it was in English; “We need to stay true to our faith” Imam told the crowd “Don’t listen to the rants of Pastor Jones, “ The Qura’n is in our heart and not just ink and paper” he assured everyone, “Be nice to your Neighbor, up to 40 neighbors” he explained our Muslim nice zoning. “We need to reach out to the community at large, our Mosque sent some brothers to hand out the Qura’n at the state fair” he explained, What next, a Mosque on a stick at the state fair. After the sermon comes the recovery period, the Social hour, lots of warm kisses and hugging, bagels and Oreo cookies replaced the traditional Eid cookies. Parents and relatives presented Elediah a few new fresh dollar bills to their eager happy kids. Everyone wished everyone else a happy Eid. I then headed to iHop restaurant, where it has becomes customary for lots Muslims to have their early Eid breakfast, this is the first time in 30 days, Muslims can eat after sun rises and not after sun sets, I talked with one of the iHop management and asked him if there is any concern about the Muslims invasion, “ it is not an invasion” he quickly responded with a smile, “we are blessed by all these Muslims, and we will treat them with at most respect” he added, how about the menu, any dietary accommodation for Muslims, I asked the iHop owner “ we make sure that there is no Pork products floating around, and we clean the grill more often” he confidently explained . “I came here with my family to celebrate Eid with Muslims and non-Muslims” said an Algerian American sitting with his two young daughters, two brothers and their wives. In a corner booth a Somali family enjoying their breakfast, as as their beautiful kids flashed their hands showing their artful henna works for everyone to see. After the iHop breakfast extravaganza came to an end, I headed to of all places; Mall of America; the shopping Mecca of the world, the consumers’ cathedral where millions visit to worship Calvin, Liz, Loren, Tommy and unveil the secrete of Victoria . For Muslims in America, Mall of America has become a new cultural sanctuary. Thousands of American Muslims of all ethnicities, nationalities, races and creeds gather to celebrate our own native customs and identities. Next to Star Bucks cafe , A few Egyptian men catching up on their latest political jokes in Egypt, their 83 year old president Mubarak is providing them with plenty of materials nowadays. “Did you know Egyptians changed the traditional Eid greeting “Eid Mubarak, to Eid Elbaradei”, one explained. Several Arab women watch nervously as their kids vanish into the maze of indoor playground. A group of Iraqis enjoy a rare peaceful moment by the indoor garden, while not too far away, some Somali men kneeling down in the corner getting ready for the noon prayer. Next to them, a cluster of young Pakistani men are listening to latest flood news from home as they are comparing latest features on their iPhone. By the Rainforest Café, some West Africans in their crisp white robes and hats seem oblivious to the strange artificial noises coming from the tropical theme restaurant. On the rollercoaster Muslim boys ride with Muslim girls, who laugh as their headscarves ; hjjab, fly over their faces above their unconcerned parents. in the middle of the mall a Somali families, cloaked with their traditional black dress, walking together in concert, their black unified bodies eclipse the front window of Victoria’s secrete, seem oblivious to its window undressing displays. They are not shopping, just celebrating. There Are no shopping bags to carry, just their kids, No culture idol to worship except their Allah, No fashion trends to follow, only their traditions. It’s Christmas without the shopping craze, every year, thousands of American Muslims turn the biggest shopping center in the world into a non-shopping mall; that is only in America.
Ahmed Tharwat, Host Belahdan,
Arab American TV Talk Show
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