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, imagine some American proudly saying, “I speak American not English.” Similarly, “Muslims” believe in religion “Islam” and cherish “Islamic” culture. Arabs are generally referred to as the descendents 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.” http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/04/09/muslims.html New York City’s popular image as the center of cultural diversity, tolerance and acceptance has been one of the greatest attractions to Muslims.
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 is intended for creating 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 two Muslim immigrant groups’ experiences and perspectives on Eid both in their original countries – the Middle East and Southeast Asia — and also in American Society, especially in New York City.