One thing didn’t happen last ‘Eid Al-Adha, that I hope I don’t forget to do again this year. It’s from the most basic of Islamic manners and was lost on all of us.
A European ‘Eid
In small Swedish city called Linköping, I was listening to last year’s ‘Eid khutbah in Arabic. Like many non-Arabic-speaking Muslims I don’t have Arabic as my first language.
I grew up in an Arabic speaking country, still my Arabic is rusty and limited. I use a bilingual Qur’an to understand most of the text, but some I can translate off the top of my head.
There were several gaps in my understanding of the khutbah by our local Moroccan imam.
I am not so familiar with Moroccan accent, intonation, and vocabulary.
I was sitting by myself in a thronging packed hall of worshippers from several nationalities and language communities.
The prayers take place in a sports hall of the university as the smaller mosques in our city do not have enough space.
Everyone sits in an undivided big hall where we can clearly see the imam from the women’s side.
Eid, as usual, is the day of rejoicing and in that celebratory vibe I notice many people wearing their traditional dresses, some are sitting in groups of friends most often which share one language and ethnicity.
Before the ‘Eid khutbah, the imam addresses the congregation in Swedish, the lingua franca of the Muslim community here.
What is the language of Muslims?
The second-generation Muslims who are either born or grow up in Sweden communicate in Swedish in their schools, playgrounds and all the other places including the mosque.
Some recent migrants can use only their ethnic languages, other bilingual and educated migrants can use only English as a lingua franca without being able to use or speak Swedish and Arabic.
The imam was changing his intonation as he came towards the end of his khutbah and began making du’a.
Those people who understand Arabic raised their hands, others copied them and yet some others just remember the intonation and the words “Ya Rabb”.
As soon as the du’a is over, and the prayers start, all the mumbling in Somali, Swedish, Arabic, Urdu, Bengali and so on ends.
Everyone enters the prayers’ mode with just one language, Arabic whether you understand it or not.Pages: 1 2