Do they all mean the same thing? Not necessarily so. Still, I occasionally hear people misusing the words, “Islamic women,” “Arabian language” and “Muslim culture.” If you have not found any problem with these, then imagine some American proudly saying, “I speak American, not English.” Similarly, “Muslims” believe in religion “Islam” and cherish “Islamic” culture. Arabs are referred to as the descendants of a Semitic group from the Middle East; they commonly speak Arabic and share Arabian culture that also indicates Islamic culture with religious aspects.
There are about 5 to 8 million Muslim immigrants living in the United States who originally came from more than 22 countries all around the world. According to Peter Awn, Columbia University Dean of the School of General Studies, “Numbering an estimated 600,000 Muslims now represent one of the fastest growing religious communities in New York City.” 1
New York City’s popular image as the center of cultural diversity, tolerance and acceptance has been one of the greatest attractions to Muslim immigrants.
However, how much do we know about our neighbors and their culture? The entire nation celebrates Christmas as one of the biggest national holidays, but who knows about Eid al-Fitr?
Recently, Park 51 project brought an enormous political uproar not only in New York City, but also in the United States as a whole. New Yorkers, who were supposedly the most diversified and open-minded citizens in the United States, already took a side without even having a full understanding of the religion of Islam.
This webpage aims to create a perceptive approach to comprehending religion of Islam and Islamic culture through the Muslims’ biggest holiday, Eid al-Fitr. We are about to compare and contrast three Muslim immigrant groups’ experiences and perspectives on Eid both in their original countries – the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia — and also in American Society, especially in New York City.
The image above is a collage of photos from the following sources:
- “Columbia News ::: Columbia Presents First-Ever Study on …” Columbia University. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2011 <http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/04/09/muslims.html>. ↩