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Ramadan around the world
July 11th, 2013
05:27 PM ET

Muslims' mixed views on TSA Ramadan advisory

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) – The Transportation Security Agency has issued an advisory about the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, telling its workforce and passengers that they may observe Muslims fasting, carrying prayer beads and whispering prayers on planes and in airports.

Ramadan begins this week, though the exact date varies depending on locale. It is the holiest month of the year for the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, during which many fast during daylight hours and dedicate more time than usual to praying and reading the Quran.

"Whenever the TSA is trying to create an environment of understanding, we welcome that," said Haris Tarin, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council's Washington office. "At the same time, it highlights certain actions that can make the American Muslim population seem almost alien."

In a statement issued July 2, the TSA said it has "reminded its security workforce that traveling passengers may be observed at various areas in the airport - including security checkpoints or on aircraft - engaged in religious practices and meditations during Ramadan."

READ MORE: The Belief Blog Guide to Ramadan 

The public, as well, should know that they might see Muslims observing Ramadan rituals at airports, the TSA said.

Those activities may include: abstaining from food and water; praying on airplanes and at airports; ritual ablutions in airport bathrooms; reading or reciting the Quran, the Muslim holy book; carrying prayer beads and whispering "prayers constantly."

A TSA spokesman said the agency issued similar Ramadan advisories in 2011 and 2012 and has also issued memos on Jewish holidays.

The TSA advisory seems designed to pre-empt problems Muslim-American travelers have experienced since the attacks of September 11, 2001 - a phenomenon sometimes satirically referred to as "flying while Muslim."

"I've consistently faced 'random' selections for extra screening at the airport after I decided to wear the hijab, or Muslim head covering," Nafees A. Syed wrote in a 2010 piece for CNN. "I've been told to take my head scarf off or have my head probed while the passengers in front of me offered pitying smiles as they rushed to their flights."

Other Muslims have been removed from flights after being seen praying at the gate area and saying "Allah" - God in Arabic.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Discrimination • Faith • Faith Now • Islam • Muslim • Prejudice • Ramadan • Terrorism

soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. sxcsloa

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    November 27, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  2. Trinity

    It'd be nice if the Muslims could do their part by staying in their seats and not blocking the isles to bow down, and not washing their feet in the airplane washroom... a courtesy for a courtesy, hm?

    August 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  3. vbscript2

    "I've consistently faced 'random' selections for extra screening at the airport after I decided to wear the hijab, or Muslim head covering,"

    Ummm... don't they do this to anyone wearing a head covering that could conceal a weapon?

    July 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Buckwheat

      I guess nobody has ever seen Cry Baby with Debbie Harry's exploding french twist hair-do. That's more creative than an exploding Burka.

      July 25, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  4. kracka

    Craka, cop want a be, regardless of race.

    July 16, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  5. L77

    Ever wonder why Mother Mary is always portrayed with a veil (hijab)? Why is hijab on a Muslim woman a threat to some uninformed Americans, but a Catholic Nun wearing a veil is not? Oh, I'm sorry, the Catholic Church has NEVER threatened ANY society! (Sarcasm for those of you who don't get it.)

    July 15, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • meifumado

      The Catholics had an evil past as all religions do.

      However look around the world right now, No other religion is involved in more death then Islam at this point in time.

      The Catholics have come a long way, they even acknowledge evolution (though they think there is a designer)

      Islam is still a dark ages religion and needs to put to pasture.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • Yusra

        Islam never was a "dark ages religion". Muslims laid the basis for the scientific method, algebra, spherical trigonometry, spherical geometry, and countless other advancements. The Quran itself contains information about the big bang, expansion of the universe, and the big crunch over a thousand years before Belgian priest Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Edouard Lemaitre even theorized them. The Quran also contains amazing facts about embryology, currents, estuaries, the layers of the atmosphere and the earth, the moon's orbit around the earth, the sun's orbit around the center of the milky way, the shape of the earth, fingerprints, tectonic plates, and the barrier between salt and fresh water. The Islamic world never even participated in the European dark ages in the first place. During the Dark ages, the Islamic Empire was going through its Golden Age, without the advancements of the Muslims in this time, the Renaissance would have never happened, Europe would have remained in the depths of its destruction.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:22 am |
        • Shayna

          Sorry, all those incredible mathematical, astronomical & medical discoveries & advances were done by Arabs, PRE-Islam.,

          August 4, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  6. SAS

    I have an Arab sounding name and have NEVER been mistreated by TSA officials when flying. They all seem very courteous and professional to me. Then again, my checked in baggage sometimes reaches me with a note saying it was selected for "random" opening.

    July 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  7. NSL

    I guess in your world people are only allowed to believe as you believe considering you've just told more than a billion people they have no right to their beliefs.

    July 14, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • evolvedDNA

      NSL..no right to their beliefs where did you get that from. They have every right to their beliefs just a an atheist would in Pakistan..opps The present crop of religions infecting the world are a serious threat to society, the world has changed drastically because of "beliefs" in this last 10 years. Religions do not regard" beliefs" as such, but as facts to defend.

      July 14, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
  8. Kandace

    Not really sure what the controversy is here. Considering the behaviors described here are the same as a Muslim who might well be getting ready to perform martyrdom, isn't this a good-will gesture by the TSA to try to be more culturally-aware? Personally, I think it's wrong headed and such behavior should still be scrutinized but for anyone complaining this makes Muslims seem "alien"... well, just get the freak over it. I fly every week for work and I can tell you if there is someone next to me on a plane swaying and muttering in Arabic (which I can speak a little of), you can be 100% sure I will be reporting that person and watching them closely.

    July 14, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • nick

      its funny when your scared of muslims yet not scares of people who can actually do you more harm like a thief or rapist.

      July 14, 2013 at 4:38 am |
    • Praveen

      flying every week but still as ignorant as the cave dwellers of al-qaeda!?

      July 14, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • derp

      "its funny when your scared of muslims yet not scares of people who can actually do you more harm like a thief or rapist"

      Thieves and rapists don't blow up planes idiot, muslims do.

      July 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • L77

      You sound very prejudiced. If someone were praying the Lord's Prayer or Hail Mary's aloud would you report them too?

      July 15, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
  9. yey

    Does not anyone notice the poles and the small crescent moons on top of the mosques every where . Islam was originally linked to the ancient worship of Allat ( Ashira) whose symbol was the crescent moon.Even their calender is lunar . Every month starts with a new moon...

    July 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It's an odd symbol for so many to have adopted. Not particularly Islamic.

      July 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • NSL

      Such baloney. The Quran is explicit about Allat being the name of a false pre-Islamic goddess. Research of early Muslims show they used no symbols. During the time of the Muhammad, Islamic armies and caravans and at Islamic gathers simple solid-colored flags, generally black, green, or white in color were used for identification purposes. Even in later generations, Muslim leaders continued to use simple flags with no markings, writing, or symbols on them.

      It was the Ottoman Empire. representing Islam, which first used the crescent moon and star. After the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, they adopted the city's existing flag and symbol. Historians have uncovered a legend in Ottoman lore which says that the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman, had a dream in which the crescent moon stretched from one end of the earth to the other. As was often true in world history many leaders took dreams to be omens, and Osman apparently took this as one and adopted the crescent and made it the symbol of his dynasty. It then became associated with Islam.

      I would note that many in the Islamic world reject the crescent and star symbol as one of Islam, noting that it was also the ancient symbol of a pagan goddess as you note. That said, there is a serious disconnect which you failed to mention.

      July 14, 2013 at 9:57 am |
  10. pinakbet

    can't we all just get along?

    July 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  11. Humanity

    "Whenever the TSA is trying to create an environment of understanding, we welcome that," ... "At the same time, it highlights certain actions that can make the American Muslim population seem almost alien."

    You just can't win with some people, can you? It can't be helped that being Muslim in America makes you different than most. People will notice you acting differently even without the TSA "highlighting" it.

    July 13, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  12. Honey Badger Don't Care

    I had a lieutenant in my platoon in the desert that was Muslim and observed Ramadan. I have no idea how he did it because he didn’t eat during the hours of darkness and none of us got much sleep.

    Funniest thing is that he last name was Christian. LOL. True story.

    July 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I've been in a predominantly Muslim country during Ramadan, and it's amazing what some people can do without food or water. But keep in mind that a lot of people "cheat", too, sometimes because they really have too, and other just because they don't really care.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      I agree but I dont think that this guy cheated. He was in pretty poor shape at the end of the month.

      Maybe there is tomething that that Breathairian movement.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  13. Alias

    I wonder if they issue warnings before christmas that christians may be flying, or that Americans may be flying around July 4th?

    July 12, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      When was the last time Christians or Americans hijacked three airplanes and flew them into building in countries they were not at war with? Or the last time a Christian serving in the military of a middle east country assassinated his coworkers? When was the last time American teenagers, living on government subsidies in a foreign country used common kitchen appliances to blow up innocent citizens of their host country?

      July 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
      • sizzurp

        haha almost seemed convincing there for a second. It's a catch 22, for you see, you guys will go to war with everybody or at least any nation that is communist, leftist, energy independent, becoming nuclear/ballistic and most recently gaining economic and/or technological superiority. And here I mean covert, cyber, economic, media and regular warfare.

        July 22, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Alias, Do Christians engage in religion specific behaviors and rituals over Christmas that are either unfamiliar or associated with activities that have been witnessed surrounding terrorist attacks?

      July 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • derp

      "When was the last time Christians or Americans hijacked three airplanes and flew them into building in countries they were not at war with|

      When was the last time a muslim bombed an abortion clinic?

      July 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Professor vj cornacopia

      There is an alert issued to TSA and flyers at xmas – presents may not be wrapped and certain gifts are not allowed on the airplane. The TSA seems to be fair in preventing problems with certain traditions in every culture. I would also have to assume someone dressed up as Santa would receive additional screening.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
      • Professor vj cornacopia

        Also, no fireworks allowed on July 4th even though that is as American as it gets... Not on the airplane!

        July 22, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  14. Thought Purification

    Why can't muslims make Ramadan not just fasting, praying, reading Quran month but also a non-flying month?

    July 11, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • Reality

      Now that is a great idea !

      July 11, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • L77

      Why can't ignorant Americans take a course on cultural sensitivity? Oh, I forgot, the ONLY culture Americans need to be concerned about it the dying, Christian, male dominated, white one.....

      July 15, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      Why couldn't all those colored folk make January through December non-sitting-at-the-front-of-the-bus months?

      July 16, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  15. Reality

    Putting a safe and peaceful end to all of this Muslim inanity:

    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
    be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

    July 11, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Reality

      من الدراسات من أرمسترونغ، رشدي، هيرسي علي، ريتشاردسون والبيهقي ----–

      في خمس خطوات لأبطل تأثير 1400 سنة من الأساطير الإسلامية:

      (-خطوات اتخاذ أقل من دقيقتين لإنهاء-ببساطة مدهشة، دقيقتين لإحلال السلام والعقلانية إلى أكثر من مليار فقدت النفوس لا تقدر بثمن!)

      هل أنت مستعد؟

      استخدام "الفروع الإسلامية 77 من" الإيمان "مجموعة الإمام البيهقي المترجمة كنقطة انطلاق. في ذلك، وهو ما يفسر الفضائل الأساسية التي تعكس صحيح" الإيمان "(إيمان) من خلال الآيات القرآنية ذات الصلة، وأحاديث نبوية." أي ملخص لطيفة من المعتقدات القرآن والإسلامية.

      الخمسة الأولى من الفروع 77:

      "1. الإيمان بالله"

      كما يعرف أيضا باسم الله، الرب، زيوس، الرب، الطبيعة الأم، وما إلى ذلك يجب أن تضاف إلى الخلايا العصبية التطهير الذاتي الخاص.

      "2. إلى الاعتقاد بأن كل شيء غيرها مما كان الله غير موجود. بعد ذلك، الله سبحانه وتعالى خلق هذه الأشياء، وبعد ذلك جاءوا إلى حيز الوجود."

      التطور والانفجار الكبير أو "غب Gnab" (عند بدء الكون لإعادة تدوير) هي أكثر ترجيحا وينبغي أن تدرج في "المندرجة" في سبيل الله إذا كنت لا تزال تشكل "الخلق".

      "3. إلى الاعتقاد في وجود الملائكة."

      A بندا رئيسيا لتطهير الخلايا العصبية. الملائكة / دي VILS هي الإبداعات الأسطورية من الحضارات القديمة، على سبيل المثال HITT خائبي، لشرح / تعريف الأحداث الطبيعية، والاتصالات مع آلهتهم، والطيور الكبيرة، والرياح المفاجئة، وحماة خلال الليالي المظلمة، وما إلى ذلك لا "جميلة / قبيحة ثينجيس افسح المجال ل" بزيارة أي وقت مضى أو تحدثت إلى محمد، يسوع، مريم أو يوسف أو جو سميث. اليوم سوف نصنف الملائكة كما الجنيات و "أجراس العبث". تصنف الشياطين الحديثة والشياطين من مجنون.

      "4. إلى الاعتقاد بأن جميع الكتب السماوية التي تم إرسالها إلى الأنبياء مختلفة صحيحا. ومع ذلك، وبصرف النظر عن القرآن، كل الكتب الأخرى ليست صالحة بعد الآن."

      ومن البنود الرئيسية في حذفها. لا يوجد كتب في ولاية روح السماء (إذا كان هناك واحد) فقط حيث لم تعد هناك ملائكة لكتابة / نشر / توزيعها. القرآن، OT، NT وما هي ببساطة الكتب التي كتبت من قبل البشر للبشر.

      اخترعت الأنبياء من قبل الكتبة القديمة عادة للحفاظ على الجماهير غير المتعلمة في الخط. اليوم ونحن ندعو لهم فرز الأصوات للتناغم.

      النبوءات كما invali مؤرخة من قبل الطبيعية / الله / الله الهدايا من الإرادة الحرة والمستقبل.

      "5. إلى الاعتقاد بأن جميع الأنبياء صحيحا. ومع ذلك، ونحن مأمورون اتباع النبي محمد (عليه الصلاة والسلام
      صلى الله عليه وسلم) وحده ".

      قضى محمد ثلاثين يوما "الصيام" (أسطورة رمضان) في كهف الساخن قبل أول اتصال له مع الله الملقب الخ الله عبر "ممتزوجات افسح المجال ل جميلة". الحس السليم يتطلب حذف الخلايا العصبية من # 5. # 5 هو أيضا المصدر الرئيسي للالاسلامي VI-olence أي تحول محمد "سريع، يحركها الجوع" hallu-cinations إلى واقع فظيع لغير المؤمنين.

      المشي هذه خمس خطوات، ونحن نضمن الانتعاش الكامل من الطرق الإسلامية الخاصة بك!!

      للأسف، لا توجد العديد من المعلقين مسلم / القراء على هذا بلوق لذلك "مدة دقيقتين" العلاج هو عدم الحصول على لأولئك الذين في حاجة إليها. إذا كان لديك صديق مسلم، ترسل له نسخة وتساعد في إنقاذ العالم.

      تتوفر خطوات مماثلة في طلبك للحصول على deprogramming الأساطير المسيحية واليهودية والبوذية والهندوسية والوثنية ..

      July 11, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
  16. I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

    It's advisable that, especially during Ramadan, one should eat bacon and drink beer in the presence of Muslims while wearing skimpy clothing.

    July 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  17. Roger that

    "Whenever the TSA is trying to create an environment of understanding, we welcome that," said Haris Tarin, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council's Washington office.

    Yes, let's not upset the religious nutjobs.

    July 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • marine1

      So everyone who believes in something you don't is a nut job?

      July 11, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Everyone who believes in alleged supernatural beings without a shred of factual, verifiable, independent or factual evidence is a nut job. Anyone who mutters to alleged odds makes me nervous, and laugh.

      July 11, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Roger that

      marine1
      So everyone who believes in something you don't is a nut job?

      That isn't what I said. Are there complete nut-jobs/extremists within the Islamic faith that are violent? Yes there are. Google 9-11, then go pound sand.

      July 12, 2013 at 2:23 am |
  18. Athy

    And I'll bet all your prayers are answered right away, aren't they?

    July 11, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  19. 777

    @Athy

    Are yours?

    July 11, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  20. Motorpickle

    Praying does not mean just asking God for something, because he already knows what someone needs. God does whatever he wants, at any time.

    July 11, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.