Eid-ul Adha is round the corner, and Muslims around the world are preparing for the celebration as they wait to receive news from their loved ones performing the Hajj this year.
Although Muslims are encouraged to celebrate the two Eids with a blast, taking into consideration the current global financial situation, the widening economic gap between the rich and the poor, and the need to observe moderation at all times even during festivities will force many Muslims to rethink Eid this year.
Eid-ul Adha is all about sacrifice and so this might be a good way to set the tone for the year ahead.
Get Creative with DIY Decorations
If decorations are on your list of Eid celebration “rituals”, take them on a twist and try creating unique decorations Do-It-Yourself (DIY) style.
If you have children, they would be happy to lend a hand. Simple decorations like banners and streamers are quite easy to do with colorful crepe paper, art block and some paints. The house doesn’t necessarily have to look like a palace for an Eid function; it would be cozier if it represented what matters more: family unity and cohesiveness between its members.
If Eid usually involves buying new curtains, new cushion covers, new cutlery and new floor rugs, consider breaking into the storeroom to check the inventory for old belongings that can be washed or polished and used. There’s nothing wrong with giving the home a new look, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done with the resources ready at hand. Otherwise, if there is dire need to buy new sets, make sure the ones you buy can be used for a long time and not just for the Eid celebration.
Plan and Shop Intelligently
The Eid feast is something of a significant expenditure after the Eid prayers. There are many ways to curb excessive spending here.
Firstly, plan out the meal and shop with a list. This would curtail any over-spending. Of course, it would be wise to avoid the tidbit section as this tends to run up the bill. Another way to save cost would be to buy in bulk. Buying in bulk significantly reduces cost in the long-run, though the upfront payment may be a little more than usual. But if you’re planning a large feast, then buying in bulk would probably be the best action plan.
Plan Get-Togethers Together
Visiting relatives and planning get-togethers can also be costly as travelling and time forces families to incur cost. Instead, plan get-togethers with the immediate family – to either convene at one house, so everyone can meet at one place without the need of making too many trips to see each other.
If everyone turning up at one home is too much for one host to shoulder, then meet at a convenient location, such as a park or public community center to celebrate Eid together. This can be done amongst friends too. To further curb spending, sharing the cost of food is a good way to reduce wastage – and here, buying in bulk would really come in handy. Otherwise, some smart planning would allow a pot-luck to run smoothly too.
Give-Aways for Charity
Gifts are always important on Eid, especially amongst children. However, it is possible to curb spending on presents too. Home-made gifts are one way to go. Children who enjoy arts and crafts, flexing their culinary skills, or even gardening could enjoy making gifts for each other and their parents. This imbues the joy of giving as much as the joys of receiving.
If you’re buying gifts, or as with some parents tend to ask your children what they want for Eid, try striking a deal with them: in return for their presents, they should be encouraged to give some of their old belongings (that are still in good condition) to charity. This allows them to appreciate their gifts a little more and to understand the importance of sacrifice for the sake of Allah.
Locate Needy Muslims
Needless to say, a grand part of Eid-ul Adha is making sacrifices for the poor and needy, and the Sunnah (prophetic tradition) relays the importance on the slaughtering of an animal.
In remembrance of the principle for fair distribution, it is best for Muslims to locate the most efficient venues for such distribution. In some areas where middle to upper class Muslims are of the general or majority population, the sacrificial meat may not be distributed well enough there, considering their distance from poorer communities.
This does not really curb one’s expenditure during Eid but it reflects an important point that food, especially the udhiyah, could go to waste, and that would be a pity, especially on a festive season that weighs heavily upon fairness amongst the poor and the udhiyah being a major part of worship on this Eid.
Before committing to a sacrifice, Muslim families should scout around for those who would really benefit and appreciate the charity. This can be done within the same country of residence or even across borders, as there are many organizations that provide the same service to countries in need such as Palestine, some African nations and a few in Asia.
Make a Sacrifice Wish-List
During or at the end of the day, it would be nice for families to sit down and reflect on what sacrifice really means to them.
In today’s turbulent financial situation, many families already make plenty of sacrifices to keep abreast with their income and savings. There is no better time to realign spending habits to better suit Islamic practices, like curbing wastage and shouldering the pain being experienced by the less fortunate. Coming up with a plan will not only help each family deal with externalities a little better, it will also contribute to the betterment of the Ummah (Islamic community).
Sacrifices can be done through monetary means; through sacrificing personal time to help out through volunteer work; through sacrificing some personal activities that cost a large amount of expenditure (for less expensive alternatives); or even through starting funds or co-operatives that could help those in need. Even giving away old belongings that are no longer needed but are in good condition is a form of sacrifice that is often overlooked.
In a world that is warped with materialism and an inherent need to be selfish, sacrificing one’s own comfort for the sake of Allah to help others comes across as an alien practice. But Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) was a man of moderation, and though he called for Muslims to reign victorious during the Eids, he cautioned them to observe Islamic principles while doing so, remembering brothers and sisters who are celebrating the festivities in less lustrous conditions.
Eid-ul Adha is a perfect way to surrender one’s self in humility to Allah, as Prophet Ibrahim obeyed the sacrifice of his own son, Prophet Ismail (peace be upon them both). So throughout the year, take time to reflect on what steps can be taken to become a better Muslim just through the simple act of sacrifice and, God-willing, Eid-ul Adha would become all the more meaningful.
First published: September 2014