Eid unity and moments of euphoria
Since moving to the United States from Pakistan ten years ago, Eid to me seemed to be a day tinged with sadness. This was more marked in the first few years I celebrated Eid here. I remember crying when my parents called and missing them painfully; missing friends, relatives, the atmosphere, my country. Eid seemed colorless and dull as if we were making an effort to pretend today was special, yet everything was the same, and we were exhausted by our own enforced cheerfulness. Gradually, as I became more settled and put out my roots in the new soil, Eid regained its flavor, though this flavor was a unique one. Now each Eid I long for the prayer experience that is special to that blessed and joyous day. That Eid I learned that the joy of Eid is not tied up to how the kids behave, or how many parties we are were invited to, but to the feelings, we have of the fruits of Ramadan. I think it was about three years ago that I first experienced that feeling of unity
I remember we had scrambled to get ready like any Eid morning, navigating the early morning traffic in our best clothes. Thankfully we were on time and we joined other Muslims finding parking spaces and hurrying in. I entered the mosque with the kids, savoring the sound of takbeers as they caressed my ears. The mosque was full to bursting with fresh happy faces, filled with the glory of Ramadan and the joy of Eid. We jostled our way in and settled down to join the rest in chanting the takbeers (praises of Allah): Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha IllAllah wa Allah ho Akbar, wa lillah hil hamd (God is Greater, God is Greater, there is no god but Allah, God is Greater, and to Him belongs all praise)..the sound was just right, the tempo was perfect. I felt a sense of timelessness, of flow, as the praises left my lips and my voice blended with all my brothers and sisters. I felt at peace, yet alive and excited.
As I looked around at the people near me, and those entering the mosque, I was amazed and humbled by the variety I saw. Long robed Arabs mixed with Pakistani’s in their dazzling finery. Somali Muslims with gleaming faces sat next to Palestinians in their traditional dresses. Some people were headed straight to work and were in their work clothes, but Eid was inscribed on every face. Children of all nations and races ran around together, with little purses and pockets full of goodies and money. The atmosphere was one of love and acceptance and the air was filled with the praises of the Divine.
We had all entered Ramadan anxious at how we would do.
Would we be able to break free from our daily routines and mundane thoughts to rise to a higher level of existence? Could we lose a bad habit in Ramadan? Could we accustom ourselves to eating and drinking mindfully and with immense gratitude? Could we bear those hunger pangs with patience and keep our good humor in the process? Could we be consistently kind, charitable and prayerful? Could we really attain that nearness to Allah that is most coveted in Ramadan? Could the mercy of Allah be ours to shelter and sustain us for the entire year? Eid was the day of answers, of results, and judging from the faces in that mosque and by the charged atmosphere we all did pretty well.
One of the chief signs of the rahmah or blessing of Allah is the peace, contentment, love, and joy that warm the heart and soul, like a delicious happy secret, that the soul has and wants to savor alone and yet is impossible not to share with others. We were One at that time. We experienced the Oneness of our Creator and we felt united with our fellow human beings. There were no Shia’s or Sunni’s that day. We prayed shoulder to shoulder and the yearnings of our heart were the same. The sermon was filled with the good news that we all wanted to hear. As we stood up to greet each other and say “Eid Mubarak” (Have a blessed Eid) we were all family. Black and white, brown and pink all embraced with love, just as we had embraced our differences and embraced our oneness. I remember thinking that even though I didn’t know everyone here, they seemed like family and this felt like home.