Eid part of US tapestry of traditions: Obama

Updated 18 August 2013

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.’


Malaysia’s police chief: Daesh fighters ‘must be allowed to come back’

Updated 5 min 26 sec ago

Malaysia’s police chief: Daesh fighters ‘must be allowed to come back’

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government has still to decide whether a reported 40 Daesh members of Malaysian origin — including women and children — should be allowed to return to their homeland from Syria. But the Inspector-General of Police of Malaysia Abdul Hamid Bador told Arab News on Thursday, “They are Malaysians and the must be allowed to come back.”
Bador stressed that any returning Daesh members would be charged under Malaysia’s Security Offenses Act and would have to undergo the country’s deradicalization program. But while many Malaysians are opposed to allowing the hard-line militants to return home, Bador said, “As a sovereign nation, Malaysia must fulfill her international obligations. We will undertake the responsibility of subjecting all of them to our rehabilitation programs.”
At a press conference on Saturday, Malaysia’s Special Branch Anti-Terrorist Division principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said that Daesh returnees would undergo rehabilitation, which would include counseling for the children.
Many Malaysians believe that the Daesh returnees will pose a threat to national security and should not be allowed to return.
“In principle, they are the citizens (of Malaysia), so they have a right to come back,” Dr. James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute, told Arab News. “But, in having to fulfill that obligation, obviously the question arises whether or not they broke the law, and to what degree they pose a threat.”
Dorsey warned that “not all deradicalization programs are 100-percent effective,” but said he believed that rehabilitation would enable people to reenter society to some degree.
“The assumption is that they went to Syria to fight, so now that Syria is no longer available they are going to come home to fight. But we don’t know that for a fact,” he said. “That may be true for some, but not for others. It is really going to be a question of evaluating every single one. We need to deal with each of them differently. Sending them to rehabilitation might be one way to resolve this.”
“There are no magic tricks involved in the programs,” Bador said to Arab News. Their success, he said, depended on coordination between the police, the religious department, and prison officers. “We are also thankful that the prisoners themselves have the willpower to return to society,” he added.
Malaysia claims that its deradicalization program is one of the most successful in the world — a model for the fight against terrorism and religious extremism, in which religious institutions play an equally important role during the rehabilitation process.
“Malaysia prides itself to having achieved a 97 percent success rate which indicates that occurrences of recidivism are minimal,” said Muhammad Sinatra, an analyst at Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies.
He told Arab News that Daesh returnees would serve time in prison, and would —  along with the women and children — be enrolled in a month-long rehabilitation program by the government.
“The women and children must have suffered from witnessing horrendous violence and losing their loved ones during their time in Syria and Iraq,” Sinatra said. “This is on top of the physical toll that years spent in conflict zones will have taken. It will take a tremendous effort by psychologists and doctors to address the physical and mental issues these returnees face.”
Sinatra added that it is imperative that the government hear testimonies from current Daesh prisoners — or preferably those who have been released — about the effectiveness of the rehabilitation program in order to obtain a more holistic picture of its success.