Eid part of US tapestry of traditions: Obama

Updated 18 August 2013
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Eid part of US tapestry of traditions: Obama

OHIO: Muslims across the US celebrated Eid on the same day to everyone’s joy and relief. Mosques overflowed with happy worshippers who stood as one ummah in prayer and thanksgiving, enjoying the mild weather, treats and spiritually motivating sermons of the day.
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle also sent their warmest greetings to Muslims celebrating Eid Al-Fitr around the world, calling it "part of a great tapestry of America's many traditions."
"Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to Muslims celebrating Eid-Al-Fitr in the United States and around the world," Obama said in his message.
"For millions of Americans, Eid is part of a great tapestry of America's many traditions, and I wish all Muslims a blessed and joyful celebration. Eid Mubarak," Obama said.
There was some difference of opinion the night before on the sighting of the Shawwal moon. Many mosques in Maryland, Ohio, and other states, announced that the moon had been sighted in Chile therefore Eid would be celebrated on Thursday. Organizations like Chicago Hilal rejected Chile as not fulfilling their criteria and said that Eid would be on Friday. Late reports of moon sightings in Arizona and California settled the score.
Delivering the second khutbah on the topic of ‘Future Muslim’ at Masjid Noor, which was being telecast live on the internet and Guide us TV, Sheikh Yusuf Estes shared some interesting facts. He said that of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world only 12 percent were Arabs. He emphasized therefore importance of learning Arabic so the future Muslims would understand the Qur'an and follow it.
He said a lot of the young children had beautiful recitation but they did not know what they were reading. Referring to a recent recitation competition, Sheikh Estes said only one child knew the translation of what he was reciting. Islam he said was the fastest growing religion in the West but the future Muslims needed to learn it so they could practice it and be good ambassadors for it.
Talking about the word Shariah (which is highly misunderstood and often misquoted by Islam phobes) Sheikh Yusuf Estes shared an anecdote related to a seminar that he had attended in California. The audience was asked if Shariah was something good or bad. Everyone, including some Muslims, thought Shariah was bad. When asked the same thing about the Torah, everyone said Torah was something good. Nobody knew both words meant the same thing, ‘the law of God.’
Ray, a newly reverted Muslim, was overwhelmed with happiness as he celebrated his first Eid. “I can’t believe how full the mosques are and how the families are close to one another and everyone is so welcoming and kind.” Ray said that since he had become a Muslim he had been exposed to many plates of biryani and had fallen in love with it and was going to have it again for Eid.
Afshan who was offering Eid prayers for the first time in a mosque said she missed her family in Multan very much but she enjoyed the diversity that Eid offered in the US.
“Can you imagine I even met a Saraiki speaking person. It was such a joy to hear the sweet Saraiki words after such a long time," she said.
Many Muslims were seen buying cakes and sweets at grocery stores. One confectioner asked this reporter if 'EID' was an abbreviation for something. She said she had received several cake orders with requests to inscribe, ‘Happy Eid.’


New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

Updated 31 min 59 sec ago
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New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

  • "One question we need to answer is whether or not we could or should have known more," Ardern said
  • Ardern ruled out New Zealand re-introducing the death penalty for accused gunman Brenton Tarrant

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday ordered an independent judicial inquiry into whether police and intelligence services could have prevented the Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15.
Ardern said a royal commission -- the most powerful judicial probe available under New Zealand law -- was needed to find out how a single gunman was able to kill 50 people in an attack that shocked the world.
"It is important that no stone is left unturned to get to how this act of terrorism occurred and how we could have stopped it," she told reporters.
New Zealand's spy agencies have faced criticism in the wake of the attack for concentrating on the threat from Islamic extremism.
Instead, the victims were all Muslims and the massacre was allegedly carried out by a white supremacist fixated on the belief that there was an Islamist plot to "invade" Western countries.
"One question we need to answer is whether or not we could or should have known more," Ardern said.
"New Zealand is not a surveillance state ... but questions need to be answered."
Ardern ruled out New Zealand re-introducing the death penalty for accused gunman Brenton Tarrant, 28, who was arrested minutes after the attack on the mosques and has been charged with murder.
She said details of the royal commission were being finalised, but it would be comprehensive and would report in a timely manner.
It will cover the activities of intelligence services, police, customs, immigration and any other relevant government agencies in the lead-up to the attack.
The gunman livestreamed the attack online, although New Zealand has outlawed the footage as "objectionable content".
Ardern reiterated her believe it should not be aired.
"That video should not be shared. That is harmful content," she said when questioned about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showing excerpts of the footage at campaign rallies for local elections this month.
Erdogan had angered both Wellington and Canberra with campaign rhetoric about anti-Muslim Australians and New Zealanders being sent back in "coffins" like their grandfathers at Gallipoli, a World War I battle.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters travelled to Istanbul to meet Erdogan and address an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Peters said OIC members were full of praise for the support New Zealand had offered its small, tight-knit Muslim community in the wake of the killings.
"A number of them were weeping and sobbing at the demonstration (of support) by non-Muslim New Zealand towards the Muslim victims," he told reporters.
"It was dramatic and I was told by countless ministers that they've never seen anything of that type."
The body of an Indian student killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks, meanwhile, was returned Monday to her grieving family in Kochi, where relatives remembered a bright young woman dedicated to her studies.
Ansi Alibava, 25, was the first of at least five Indians shot dead on March 15 to be repatriated.
The family planned to hold a funeral ceremony for the masters student in their nearby hometown of Kodungallur.