Blending a Day of Feasting into a Month of Fasting
Roderick and Gloria Bashir and their daughters, Samiyah and Tahira, waited until sunset at 4:27 P.M. Then, after saying a prayer to Allah, they gathered around the dining room table with relatives and friends, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish, offering thanks. They praised God for his goodness, for life itself, and for blessings of this day of Thanksgiving. For Mr. and Mrs. Bashir, who are Muslim, the day was more than an observance of Thanksgiving. This year, the holiday fell during Ramadan, a month-long fast for Muslims during which they cannot eat before sunset.
Some Muslims will not recognize the tradition of Thanksgiving because they fear that, if they do so, they will be inventing something new in their religion. Others feel that you create a holiday when you are feeling guilty about something. For example, many Muslims will not celebrate Mother's Day because they feel that you are supposed to honor your mother every day of the year. Other Muslim Americans view the holiday in much the same way as other Americans do.
With the sun gone and the family's fast broken, the Bashirs and their guests proceeded with the annual carving of turkey, the pouring of gravy, and the spooning of cranberry sauce. Mrs. Bashir has prepared the dinner every Thanksgiving for twenty years, but this year it was delayed so they could keep with their beliefs and family tradition.
"We see it as an opportunity to bring ourselves and Christians and other friends together on this day to celebrate in the spirit of thankfulness," said Mr. Bashir. "For Muslims, that is not exclusive to Thanksgiving. The spirit of Thanksgiving is probably the one celebration of the American calendar that goes to the heart of Islam. The spirit of Thanksgiving represents the very spirit of Islam, that is, to always and continually be thankful to God."
So, as turkey was carved and another slice of sweet potato pie found its way to a plate, it was no different on the homes of many Muslim Americans on Thanksgiving Day.
John W. Fountain, "Blending a Day of Feasting into a Month of Fasting," The New York Times, November 25, 2001