Eid Al-Fitr – Bayram Greetings A.H. 1434
by Center for Islamic Pluralism
The Center for Islamic Pluralism, a network of writers, scholars, Sufi shaykhs, and Muslim believers with groups in 30 Muslim majority countries and minority communities, extends sincere blessings to all Muslims on Eid Al-Fitr/Bayram, for the hijri year 1434.
As Muslims, throughout the fasting month of Ramadan this year, we were reminded of the sacrifices and sufferings of believers around the world. In Syria, unrestrained bloodshed continues, having reached some 100,000 victims and bringing with it wholesale cultural devastation. The city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, has been almost completely ravaged. Earlier in the year, the destruction in Aleppo included the toppling of the minaret at the 11th c. CE Umayyad mosque. The mosque includes, in Islamic tradition, the tomb of the prophet Zakhariya (Zechariah), father of Yahya (John the Baptist).
The Khalid Bin Walid mosque was reported retaken by Al-Assad forces at the end of July. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights states that the mausoleum of Khalid was destroyed in government shelling.
Syria is a focus for the three monotheistic religions in its history and the locations of sacred sites. They include a cave where Ibraham/Abraham is believed to have prayed, overlooking Damascus. In addition, Damascus houses some 300 shrines of Companions of Prophet Muhammad, sallallahualeyhisalem.
Likewise, many of the most famous Sufi saints are buried in Syria, including the tomb in Damascus of Shaykh Muhyid'din Al-Arabi (1165-1240 CE), considered the greatest of the Muslim metaphysicians.
Threatened by Al-Assad's terror and Wahhabi incursions among insurgent forces, the architectural and related legacy of Syria, precious to all humanity, may be annihilated entirely.
In Egypt and Turkey, political chaos has followed the ascendancy and subsequent popular discontent with Islamist political parties.
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has lately experienced a new series of repressive actions against bloggers and other dissenting voices. In the most recent case, blogger Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 600 lashes and seven years' imprisonment for establishing a liberal website. Badawi's case has been appealed and CIP is monitoring its outcome. We pray that reform elements in the Saudi leadership will show mercy by vacating the sentence against Badawi. Lower-level figures in the Saudi-Wahhabi judicial apparatus attempted to file a case against Badawi for "apostasy," citing, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation, his having pressed a "like" button on an Arab Christian social media page. But the bid was rejected by higher court officials.
Other questionable prosecutions in the Saudi monarchy recently included arrest of the author Turki Al-Hamad in 2012 on unspecified charges. Al-Hamad was released in June 2013 following a petition by hundreds of Saudis to Crown Prince Salman, calling for an end to his prosecution. In March 2012, a 10-year prison sentence was imposed on Mohammad Al-Qahtani, a co-founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, with 11-years for his partner in the effort, Abdullah Al-Hamid.
Blogger Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi resident of Uighur origin who was arrested in 2012 for purportedly "blasphemous" twitter comments, remains in detention.
The procedural ambiguities that surround these cases reflect both the arbitrary nature of the Saudi legal "system" and the ideological ferment created by official reform efforts.
At this joyful time, and afterward, let us as Muslims continue to work and pray for the security of those seeking the path of truth in our religion.
Bajram šerif mubarek olsun!
Gëzuar Fitër Bajramin!