Hiba A. discusses how Eid has evolved for her over the years – from childhood to adulthood.
Every year, Eid Ul Fitr arrives in all its splendid glory, and every year, my local friends ask the same question, ‘So is it like Muslim Christmas?’. It’s an interesting question because while yes, it is an incredible day of happiness and family and food, the roots of Eid run far deeper than just that, in a way that only Muslims are able to comprehend.
Ramadan is one of the holiest months in the world, not only for Muslims, but for all humans on this earth. During Ramadan, we learn the importance of Allah’s blessings and His Bounty, a sacred month where Hadith states that the gates of Heaven are open and the gates of Hell are shut. It’s a month where we abstain from food, drink, and worldly pleasures to reflect on ourselves, learn patience and self-control, and understand the plight of those who don’t have the benefit of enjoying the things we take for granted. So, for those who fast during this blessed month, make charity, and strive to better themselves, Eid serves as a celebration, an opportunity to come together with family and friends to thank Allah for his blessings, and pray to for more years to experience the sanctity of Ramadan.
When I used to live in the UAE, Eid was a holiday. Annually, the country would mark the end of fasting with a festivity full of lights, colours, sounds, and smells. The four-day occasion would always be preceded with hours of choosing the perfect clothes, practicing the best hair styles, painstaking mehndi applications, and of course the all-important moon sighting that would be excitedly announced through all tv’s and radios. We would rise before dawn on the much-awaited day, and bleary-eyed would scurry to shower and dress in our new fancy clothes, and make the journey to the mosque, the roads packed with believers on their way to prayer. Eidi would be the highlight of the day for us as kids, pockets full of sweets from our parents and relatives. Family barbecues at a park at night were a must, before we’d return to our beds, eagerly planning the next days activities.
Now, as an adult, it is a little different. The essence of Eid rolls around like an old friend, the feeling still warm and nostalgic. The day is always comforting, following the morning prayers where we continue to thank Allah for rewarding us with the strength and steadfastness to once again observe the month of Ramadan, and enjoy the opportunity to see the people we don’t always get the chance to see normally. We return to our homes, or our family’s homes, or our friends’ homes, for food and fun and laughter. We still share jokes, memories, plan get-togethers, and reflect on the year we’ve had so far. All the while the rest of the city goes about their day, oblivious to our long-awaited day of joy and contentment – Eid being our own little thing. A moment we still wait all year regardless of how old we get; proof that as we grow, times and traditions change, we celebrate differently but the spirit of Eid remains true.