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  • Writer's pictureAslam Abdullah

Thanksgiving: A Day of Mourning for the Natives

In California, Muslim groups are outpacing each other in distributing free Turkeys, mainly to Muslims, during 2021 Thanksgiving. Other states are not behind. The resources for this charitable work, often described by organizers, as done to please Allah, come from individuals who donate as part of their religious obligation.

The community, in general, focuses on a meaningless debate of its theological relevance. Traditional gatekeepers argue that God does not permit it, and the Prophet forbade Muslims not to imitate non-Muslims. The new claimants of Islamic theology suggest that the Prophet advised Muslims to adopt good practices. They consider thanksgiving a good exercise for 300 million Americans who gobble 50 million Turkeys, spending over a billion dollars. It is a day of happiness and family gathering and a day to celebrate Pilgrims s arrival.

However, the ethical dimension of Thanksgiving has hardly been a concern for the community that claims to follow a Prophet described as an embodiment of the highest moral character.

Natives do not celebrate Thanksgiving. Instead, they consider it a day of mourning that reminds them of the slaughter of millions of Indigenous people and outsiders' theft of their lands. Many fast from sundown the night before to sunset to remember the hardship and genocide their ancestors faced.

The suppressed speech of Wamsutta Frank James describes their feelings aptly. He was the leader of the Wampanoag people. He founded the United American Indians of New England in 1970 after being "uninvited" to make a speech at a celebration hosted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

"Today, we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important, where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail. You, the white man, are celebrating an anniversary. We, the Wampanoags, will help you celebrate the concept of a new beginning. It is the beginning of a new determination for the original American, the American Indian, three hundred fifty years later. There are some factors concerning the Wampanoags and other Indians across this vast nation. We now have three hundred and fifty years of experience living among the white man. We can now speak his language. Furthermore, we can now think as the white man thinks; we can now compete for the top jobs. We're being heard. We are now being listened to. The significant point is that along with these necessities of everyday living; we still have the spirit; we still have a unique culture. We still have the will. And most important of all, the determination to remain as Indians. We are determined, and our presence here this evening is living testimony that this is only the beginning of the American Indian, particularly the Wampanoag, to regain the position in this country that is rightfully ours."

By joining the celebrations, Muslims trivialize history and ignore a people robbed of their culture and traditions. Mosques are part of these celebrations, and Islamic groups distribute free Thanksgiving food packages to everyone. In addition, some places of worship hold special prayers on this day.

Islam does not prevent its adherents from celebrating. But it draws lines between justice and injustice distinctly and expects its followers, not to cross them. Thus, rather than being supportive of the narration of Natives, they have chosen to accept the Pilgrims' version of history and crossed that line their faith draws sharply.

Will they listen to the voices of the Natives? Or will they falsely believe that they serve God by distributing free Turkeys? If they care for justice, they may fast on Thanksgiving Thursday in solidarity with the Natives from dawn to dusk.

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