Eid Mubarak!

Bassam Tariq resides in New York City. He is the co-author of the blog 30 Mosques which celebrated the NYC mosques during the blessed Islamic month of Ramadan. He is also an ad writer at Saatchi. Don't worry, if he were you, he'd also change the channel when his ads come on.


Eid Mubarak everyone! (Happy Eid) The Islamic month of Ramadan ended on Saturday evening. The new month in the Islamic calendar starts with the sighting of the new moon. I remember being a kid in Pakistan and climbing our rooftop to see if the new moon was out. If we didn't see it on the 29th day of Ramadan, we'd fast for another day and declare the first of Shawwal (the name of the next month) the day after. Kind of confusing at first, but its more so based on a communal decision than an 8 year old Bassam's sighting. The sighting of the new moon marks the beginning of the next Islamic month, Shawwal, and the Eid-ul Fitr celebration.

Eid means festivity in Arabic and Fitr means breaking of the fast and so the holiday symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. In fact, the first day of Eid is the only day it is forbidden to fast. As the myth I heard growing up went, "the devil fasts on Eid! Do you want to fast with the devil?"

Most of my family is in Houston and I wanted to spend the last days of Ramadan, as well as Eid ul Fitr with them. So I packed my bags and left New York on Thursday night.

Most families get up early on Eid to catch the morning prayer. It's not an obligatory prayer, but more of a way for the community to come together in celebration. In Houston, the Islamic Society of Greater Houston rents out the George R. Brown Convention Center and convenes the largest gathering of Muslims in Texas. Somewhere in Houston, Tom Delay is cringing. 

We blocked a whole road as we entered and exited the convention center.

We pray towards Makkah and that's why we're all heading in that direction. Notice the rolls of paper laid out for the prayer. 

Yes, more of us. Since I was in the men's section I couldn't get many photos of the women. Plus, it'd be a little awkward for an young Muslim man to barge into the women's area and start taking photos. There is a certain distance that the genders tend to keep with each other. Or, well, at least in these gatherings. 

After the prayer ends, the Eid hugs begin. The Eid hugs are pretty distinct from normal hugs, you huge on the right side, then the left, and then the right again. Yes, we're so happy to eat again we hug not once, twice, but three times. 

The rest of the day is spent visiting family and friends. We had a lot of guests over our small house. Being the youngest in my family, 22, I am responsible for entertaining all the kids that come. I thought of talking to them about the importance of keeping a good GPA and taking the SATs. But I hadn't touched my X-Box in over a year and wanted to kick some ass in Marvel v Capcom 2, their education could wait. 



  1. I am very happy to see the realities of Islam portrayed in such a way! As a lifelong Christian re-examining my faith, I am always pleased to see non-sensationalized events like this.

    I am going to be watching with interest, however the reaction in the comments to the guest bloggers. My honest belief is that if a Christian blogger wrote about Sunday mass or church camp there would be a round of atheists writing with their usual vitriol about flying spaghetti monsters and deluded masses.

    It seems that there is a double standard which seems to apply here that disappoints me and that I wouldn’t mind seeing the back side of here on boingboing.

    Well done for accurately portraying the daily realities of following Islam in America. Best of luck to you and welcome to boingboing!

  2. RE: brucethehoon,

    I’ve got two problems with your concerns about double standard, or at least, the way you’ve expressed them here:

    1) It doesn’t take much looking around atheist communities to see some pretty blatant anti-Muslim sentiment (some bordering, and some even crossing the line into, racism, from my POV). If you think atheists are generally super cuddly toward Muslims and mean to Christians, I have to suggest that that is probably because you’re wearing blinders that make you far more aware of slights against your religion vs. slights against others’.

    2) The way you’ve worded this seems to suggest that you’re going to call foul and bias unless somebody in the Boing Boing comment crowd steps up and insults the Muslim guest bloggers. Which is, I think, a not particularly welcoming sentiment for said Muslim guest bloggers.


    On a different note: Welcome, Bassam! I’m super glad that Xeni invited you and Aman over and I’m looking forward to your ongoing posts!

  3. I was delighted to discover that Eid-ul Fitr meant that alternate side parking rules were suspended today in New York City!

  4. RE: Maggie Koerth-Baker

    I can see where you would draw those conclusions from. I would like to suggest an alternate cause for my sentiment.

    Given that I have a Christian background, it seems more likely that I view the often excitable responses from the atheist crowd as uniquely anti-Christian because it is more likely to be the context in which I experience it. Not having been exposed to Islam in such a way, I have not been in a position to experience those comments in that context. To be fair, as you say, I have not gone looking for anything to contradict my observation.

    I was hoping to post a non-sensationalist opinion and a hearty Thank you! to the guest bloggers for their unique input, but some of your words such as “super cuddly” make me feel that you have an emotional connection to this issue as well. Perhaps my writing is so poor that I really came of quite the opposite as I intended.

    Far from wording my post in such a way as to either encourage hate speech or as a taunt against the atheist crowd, I thought I had made it clear that what I truly want is an exit stage right from the entire group of folks who view any positively worded post featuring an organized religion as an incitement to set those whacky prayermongers straight via the age old device of the hate filled rant.

    Thank you for triggering a response from me so that I might clarify my message.

  5. Based on this post, I like that Muslims appear to have a strong sense of community and fellowship. On the other hand, I’m glad that I didn’t grow up in a culture where women are officially segregated from men. I saw a lot of that when I worked in Japanese public schools and I think it sucks. Just my opinion fwiw.


    Well, I guess there’s a slight natural affinity between Muslims and atheists. The Muslims say “there is no god but God,” so we each think the other is at least half right. ;-)

    More seriously, I think there’s an important difference to be drawn between someone honestly trying to neutrally inform me about his culture and take on the world, and someone trying to convince me I am a bad person for not sharing his take on the world, or acting like the fact that I don’t is a personal attack on him.

    While I cannot speak for every atheist, I like hearing about the former, but I emphatically oppose the latter. There is no double standard.


    I love what you guys are doing, and the attitude with which you are approaching it. Thanks for giving us the non-cartoon perspective so often missing from the American narrative about Islamic culture (pencil drawings of the two of you notwithstanding).

  7. Bassam, thanks for your post. It’s nice to see a mention of Eid here. Having spent the last 13 Eids away from family, it’s easy to feel that it’s just another day of the year.. no one around seems to notice.

    thanks for sharing your holiday experience on boingboing :)

  8. I’m an atheist, but I’ve been fasting during Ramadan for the last few years to show express solidarity with the 2 billion Muslims in the world, who have pretty much been free game for hate speech and racism for the last decade. I really enjoyed 30mosques.com, and actually found myself coming back to read it every day. Happy Eid everybody.

  9. “I thought of talking to them about the importance of keeping a good GPA and taking the SATs. But I hadn’t touched my X-Box in over a year and wanted to kick some ass in Marvel v Capcom 2, their education could wait. ”

    Dude, that’s a sign of a quality uncle! Parents nag about education, grandparents slip sweets and cash, uncles do all that fun cool stuff that other adults don’t do. And since your job was being uncle/proxy-uncle, you called it totally right.

  10. I, too, want to welcome Bassam and Aman. Xeni’s invitation of these guest bloggers seems like a good opportunity for a lazy sluggard like myself to learn more about Ramadan and Muslim life without having to make even the tiniest effort.

    And I’ve already learned something that I had not known (showing what a sheltered life I’ve led with an apparently one-sided, or limited, education in the U.S.): One can apparently see a new moon. Who knew?

    I also may have learned that President Mubarak should be happier than he seems to be, but maybe I haven’t learned that after all.

  11. Bassam, thank you so much for this, and for 30mosques.com

    I have my MA in medieval Islamic history (those heretical Fatimids and Al-Hakim’s 9th century reign to be precise) and many of my classes in Arabic were filled with Muslim students. My first class was actually on 9.11.01, or it would have been if it had not been cancelled. I saw how my friends were treated with fear and suspicion. The antidote was then, and is now, exactly what you and Aman are doing. The more people know about Islam and Muslims the harder it is for bigots to spread their nonsense.

    As-sallamu aleykum gents! And Eid Mubarak!

  12. #13

    Actually, most estimates place the world Muslim population at around 1.5 billion.

    But you are right about the open season on Islam.

  13. I am an atheist, and I see both Islam and Christianity as deluded belief systems that with some luck will have their day in the dustbin of history as several other delusions before them had.

    But, normal, not pathological Muslims are far nicer people than their Christian equivalents. They don’t try to convert me to Islam or knock to my door to announce the end of the world and demanding my repentance.

    When it comes to the fringe elements of both religions, they both are beyond contempt.

    I may also protest more about a Christian talking about Sunday mass because they have been doing that all my life and I have had enough, Islam has at least the exotic element which makes it more interesting, including how those gatherings are always so masculine.

  14. @20 TZCTLP:

    Well hey, at least you don’t sound testy about it.

    I’ve known many Atheists, including my very closest friends, and they’ve never expressed the kind of vitriol and anti-religious rhetoric that seems to be de regiueur of even the most passing mention of religion online.

    Perhaps next time you get a knock on your door from some earnest prosthelytizer you should take the “Black Books” approach. At very least it would be a nicer experience.

  15. Welcome Bassam and Aman! I think it’s so cool that you guys are guest blogging here. Welcome.

    I’m Lebanese (don’t let the funny Celtic name fool ya), second gen in US, raised Catholic. I haven’t had much exposure to my culture, home country, or the Arab world in general, and I’m trying to “fix” that, to educate myself. I’m even thinking about learning Arabic.

  16. Rats, I missed this when it was current. Welcome Bassam and Aman, and Eid Mubarak!

    Little John 16: One can apparently see a new moon. Who knew?

    That’s actually interesting, because there’s no general agreement about what the term ‘new Moon’ means. It can mean either the dark phase of the Moon, when it’s between the Earth and Sun (but not in the ecliptic, except during an eclipse, hence the name), or the early sliver when the side facing us is first beginning to be lit.

    I think the second one is actually more sensible, since the (visible*) Moon is “new” after a period of absense. What’s “new” about a Moon you can’t see? Also, when Inanna said

    My crescent-shaped Barge of Heaven,
    So well-belayed;
    Full of loveliness like the new Moon,

    she wasn’t talking about something invisible!

    Personally I like to avoid confusion, so I call the dark phase the Dark Moon, the first sliver the Bow Moon, and the last sliver the Sickle Moon. But that might be too Wiccan for you.
    *OK, but you can usually see the Moon in its dark phase. It’s backlit, that’s all. If you’re looking for it at midnight, you’re out of luck, because it sets right around sunset (see above about it being between the Earth and Sun—”conjunct” in astrological terms, which conveniently treat the sky as a circle (part of which is hidden by the Earth) rather than a sphere).

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