"The culmination of one full month of fasting by Muslims during Ramadan is called Eid ul Fitr, a day marked by jubilation, parties and family get-togethers. This year it was celebrated on two days, Aug. 30 and 31. Why? Because one section of Muslim traditionalists said the moon was not visible by human eye at the time of the original celebration, and other traditionalists said, based on scientific calculations, the moon could be seen. Two opinions, hence two Eids.
"Islam is not a homogeneous religion."
Voices were raised on all sorts of points:
"'Why can't we teach about our Constitution and Bill of Rights in Islamic Schools of America?' a gentleman in a suit shouted. 'There are more Islamic principles in America than there are in Muslim countries. Pluralism and democracy are also part of Quranic teachings, but we do not hear this from our religious clergy.'
"We must stop demonizing others: 'We have carried a lot of cultural and religious baggage when we migrated to America from our country of origin,' a young man said. 'We call every non-Muslim a nonbeliever or kafir (infidel). We think we have a lock on truth. The Holy Scriptures of the non-Muslims are all corrupted or changed, we are taught.'"
In this one Eid celebration discussion, calls for reform and change carried the day:
"As discussion turned to pluralism and secular governments, our group grew bigger. We thought how we could best serve our community in America as well as influence events and governments in the Muslim countries that are teetering on the brink of lawlessness, anarchy and corruption.
"One Turkish gentleman, listening to our heated conversation, remarked, 'Muslims should adopt a secular government and honor every religious sect. Pluralism must also be talked from the pulpits, and we should train our Imams to preach tolerance and respect.'
"The time is ripe for American Muslim organizations to work closely with the State Department and the leaders of democratic movements in the Arab world to bring about this kind of change.
"Is anybody listening in Washington?"
I have no idea who is listening to whom in Washington -- or elsewhere -- but preaching tolerance and respect from pulpits everywhere seems an extraordinarily good idea to me.