Long-overdue recognition of Islam on postage stamps

October 25, 2001

This editorial appeared in the Providence Journal Friday:

TWO POSTAGE stamps in the "cultural holiday" series have just been issued, and both honor the two most important Islamic festivals, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

The stamps, now on sale at post offices around America, feature gold Arabic calligraphy on a blue background and the words "Eid Greetings."

Eid al-Fitr breaks the fast that ends Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.

Eid al-Adha commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, and comes at the end of the hajj, the annual period of pilgrimage to Mecca, the Muslim holy city. (According to the Quran, Abraham's son was Ishmael, not Isaac, as the Bible tells the story.)

While it may startle Americans to see U.S. stamps honoring two Islamic festivals, it should not come as a surprise.

There are at least 4 million Muslims in the United States, and their numbers are rising. Indeed, this is a postal recognition that is long overdue.

Other stamps in the series have honored Hanukkah, the Jewish religious festival; Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican national holiday; and Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa, a Christmas-season celebration, was invented by a Los Angeles black separatist-activist named Ron Karenga, and dates from the late 1960s.

There are nearly as many Muslims as Christians in the world, and Islam has been with us for a millennium and a half. As we say, it is about time the Postal Service honored one of the great religions.

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