The Festival of Sacrifice and Unexpected Eid Blessings
The morning of Eid in my household, whether it's Eid ul Fitr or Eid al Adha, is a volcanic eruption. We have to wake up before sunrise. We also have to take a shower, dress up really nice and, in the case of Eid al-Adha, we refrain from eating anything before the prayer.
If it were just me that I had to worry about, this wouldn't be a problem. But, given that there are four of us, the phrase "herding cats" comes to mind.
"You get Y. ready, and I'll get N."
"No, you feed him ... ugh, stop pulling on my shirt, what do you want?!"
"Do you have the cash for Saddaqa ... seriously, you mean we have to stop by the BANK?!!!"
"No, you CANNOT wear your Cinderella dress up outfit to Eid prayer!"
"WAHFO, WHAAAAFOE ... ANA WAHFOO ... ANA DADOOO!! (Translation: Waffles, waffles, I want waffles ... and I want to nurse!!)
"WHAT do you MEAN you haven't taken a shower, yet? When am I going to take a shower, then?!"
"It's Eid ... I WANT CANDAAAAAAY FOR BREAKFAST PUHLEEEEZ! "
"I HAVE the diaper bag AND the clothes we're wearing tonight, we'll just have to get ready at mom's place and then come back here ... yes, I did tell you about that party ... did you put snacks in there ... I know N, the graham crackers aren't FOR YOU..."
Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. It's just that amidst that tornado of preparation, I'm not really thinking about Eid.
I'm thinking about getting to Eid prayers, going to my mom's place afterward, and then how I'm going to blow dry my hair before we start making evening rounds of our friend's places.
But this is how we do it. This is how everyone does it, I guess. This is how it is done.
Unless Allah blesses you with an upper respiratory infection.
You should know that attendance of Eid prayers is mandatory. There is scholarly discussion of whether it's obligatory for women, but I, personally, treat it as an obligation.
However, there are exemptions. For example, when you are sick. And your children are sick.
I'm a very civic minded sick person. I don't go ANYWHERE when I or my children are sick.
Given the fact that Muslims greet each other by hugging and kissing each other, I thought it best to stay home with the kids and thereby save the Muslim community in Central Florida from having an epidemic of the worst. cold. ever.
I woke up on Tuesday morning to find that my husband had already left for Eid prayer. I called him and found out that since we weren't "really going to be doing anything today," he had decided to go straight to work.
If you're reading this and you're not Muslim, I ask you to substitute your own religious equivalent into this situation. It's like this, "Since everyone is sick, I'm just going to go to [religious place of communal gathering] and then I'm going to work."
Don't get the point? Okay, how's this: "I'm going to work. On Christmas."
That is incredibly depressing.
As soon as I hung up the phone, I decided today is NOT going to be another Tuesday.
Today is Eid al Adha.
TODAY IS EID AL ADHA, AND IT WILL BE SPECIAL.
So, I woke the kids up, yelling, "Eid Mubarak!! It's Eid, can you believe it? IT. IS. EID!!!"
This, as I mentioned, is a significant change from, "Wake up, WAKE UP ... we're going to be late, we have to get to salaat ... hurry ... oh, oh, yes, ::quick hug:: Eid Mubarak ... go brush your teeth..."
Y. was ecstatic, because he doesn't have a clue and pretty much yelling about anything makes him giggle, but I saw N.'s eyes sparkle in a way that they haven't on any previous Eid.
Even the one when we bought her a bicycle and a golf set. She was excited. Very excited.
How to Make Eid Special When You're Too Sick To Go To Prayer and Participate In the Tornado of Socialization that Follows
First on the agenda, explain the meaning and reason for Eid al Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice. Eid Al Adha signifies the end of Hajj as well as Abraham's willingness to sacrifice for Allah.
Yes, I do realize that those silver spheres hanging there are supposed to be Christmas decorations. However, I will only cease and desist their use when someone offers an adequate explanation of how tacky silver spheres are connected to the birth of Jesus. Until then, they are pretty, fun, and festive. And since Eid is a festival, I'm using them. Also, you may notice that I wrote "Eid Mubarek" instead of "Eid Mubarak." Really, you can spell it either way. Mostly, my assertion is based on the notion that I didn't feel like starting over.
If a person were to take a quick look at most national flags of Muslim countries, they would notice that green and white are big themes. So, our decor was highly informed by that.
You also have to eat something sweet on Eid, too. It's, like, a RULE.
Please note that in addition to green and white, N. has introduced "lavender" (NOT to be confused with purple) among our family Eid colors.
Then, of course, we had presents. I got him Avatar. Because I am awesome. And also we haven't seen it yet.
After dinner, we read a story about the Prophet Abraham (pbuh*). Not the PG-13 story when Allah commands him to sacrifice his son, but another one that is more PG-rated that emphasizes the commitment to Islamic monotheism. Because, personally, I think my five-year-old isn't ready for the whole story, and I don't want her freaking out if I mention a trip to the mountains in the next few months.
Eid is a day of blessing for Muslims.
It's a day when we should enjoy ourselves and foster gratitude for those blessings. I think I'd forgotten that.
It's quite possible, in fact, up until a few days ago, I hadn't ever really understood that with my whole heart. This is another one of those moments when I feel blessed to have been born in America. So much of the practice of tradition has the potential to rely on concerted and conscious effort in this country. We're given the opportunity to reinvent tradition in ways that can resonate more clearly with the actual values behind the practice.
Whether it's Eid, Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah or other special days, the reasons for our celebrations contain the wisdom of ages and the values we hold dear. The true blessings of these days occur when we can actually identify what we're choosing to transmit to those who will carry them on.
Being part of a community of worshipers is an integral part of being a Muslim, and of course my kids and family will always, God willing, attend Eid prayers and go to the parties afterward. In the future, though, we're going to take time to ... well, to breathe in the blessings that God has given us.
Religious holidays are more than parties and candy and toys -- they are blessings.
Let's stop and close our eyes as these days unfold and truly experience their blessings.
Let's celebrate with more than just our deeds, let's celebrate with our hearts and our pure intentions.
It's not just enough to teach my kids about Eid. I will teach them what it means, why they're lucky to have it, why it's important and, most of all, how they can do more than just observe it.
We will teach them, how they can, truly and with all their hearts, learn to love it. Inshallah.
This is my baby. This is my baby after three cupcakes. Eid Mubarak, everyone. :-)
Photos were taken with my husband's Motorola Droid which is the only camera we had available at the time.
*"pbuh" is the suffix that Muslims add when speaking of Allah's Messengers and Prophets. It means "Peace be upon him."