Service emphasized at Ramadan’s end

Service emphasized at Ramadan’s end

As anxiety heightens, Muslims tone down traditional celebration

Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News

Detroit –A three-day celebration marking the end of Ramadan, the holiest month of Islam, is taking a different tenor this year because of heightened anxieties among Muslims.

Eid al-Fitr, the “Feast of the Breaking of the Fast,” is traditionally marked by lively celebrations and feasts. But some in Metro Detroit this year are toning down celebrations because of controversy over a proposed Islamic center and mosque near the site of the World Trade Center and because the third day of the holiday falls on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks.

“We have concerns,” said local Muslim activist Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “But it’s my hope that everything is going to remain peaceful.”

Walid and other community leaders are urging Muslims to volunteer to mark the last day of Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of a monthlong fast during Ramadan.

“We are encouraging Muslims to go out and serve this community,” said Victor Begg, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan. “We have not planned on any celebrations.”

Begg and an estimated 700 others will meet at Clark Park on the city’s southwest side Saturday morning to clean city parks.

Tariq Hafeez, a Canton Township resident and attorney, will be among local Muslims taking part in the volunteer effort.

“We have always been involved in the community,” said Hafeez. “This is very much ingrained in our faith.”

The program is part of a national volunteer initiative, MuslimServe, which is part of President Barack Obama’s call to Americans to make Sept. 11 an annual Day of Service and Remembrance for the victims who died in the attacks. Gov. Jennifer Granholm encouraged residents to mark the anniversary by lowering flags and volunteering.

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, said this year’s observance of Eid al-Fitr is definitely more solemn.

“People are sad about the (controversies) in general but I think this is an opportunity for Christians to realize extremism and craziness exists in many parts of the world,” said Elahi. “It’s not confined to one faith. It’s a human problem.”

Today, Muslim clerics will join other religious leaders, including Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, at an interfaith prayer service to mark the anniversary from 4-5 p.m. at Second Ebenezer Church on the city’s east side.


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