By Sasha Nyary
The Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, which marks both the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son in in obedience to a command from God and the end of the annual Hajj to Mecca, is one of Islam’s most holy occasions.
Mount Holyoke College is celebrating the holiday with a talk by Haroon Moghul, a commentator and broadcaster and the author of a new memoir, “How to be a Muslim: An American Story.”Slated for Friday, September 15, at 6 p.m. in Chapin Auditorium, the event is part reading, part party and part religious observance, and includes food, music and socializing.
“We are so delighted to be able to have this celebration with such a great speaker and so close to the beginning of the semester,” said Elizaveta Lozovaya, advisor to the Muslim community. “The Muslim calendar is based on the lunar cycle and this holiday doesn’t always occur during the academic year. Eid Al-Adha is a community celebration for Muslims and includes deep contemplation on the concept of sacrifice.”
Moghul, who grew up the Pioneer Valley, was born into a Pakistani Punjabi family. When the Sept. 11 attacks occurred in 2001, he was a student leader at the New York University Islamic Center and as such, was called upon to be a spokesman for the Muslim community. He described the role as both a “civic responsibility” and a “tremendous burden” when he was interviewed in July by Terry Gross on her radio program, Fresh Air.
“Every time something bad happens you're called upon to apologize, to explain,” Moghul told Gross. “It means that your entire identity is pegged to events in other parts of the world — usually and almost exclusively negative events — and your entire religious life becomes the articulation of why your community is not a problem or should not be perceived as a problem to wider America.”
Moghul is senior fellow and director of development at the Center for Global Policy and the Muslim Leadership Initiative facilitator at the Shalom Hartman Institute. He has appeared on all major media networks, and his essays and reviews have been published in such outlets as The Washington Post, Time magazine, CNN.com, The Guardian, Foreign Policy and Haaretz. His other books include a novel, “The Order of Light.”
The program is free and open to the public and books available for purchase and signing. Food is free with a college ID and $8 for the general public. Henna and Eid-related souvenirs will also be for sale. The event is sponsored by the Division of Student Life, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and the Muslim Student Association, in conjunction with the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley.