The celebration of Eid is upon us. It is the festival of the breaking of the fast and marks the end of Ramadan (a month long fast).
Many Muslims will be greeted by the phrase “Eid Mubarak” which means “Blessed Eid” sometimes followed by hugging three times. It is a day that begins by the wearing of new clothes, going to early morning prayers, charitable donations, the giving of gifts and visiting friends and family partaking of food and drink. This happens wherever Muslims are in the world.
In Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the public sector gets a public holiday of nine official days. In the US, just 3.3 million are Muslim, the UK – about 2.7 million and in Australia – 47,291 people are Muslim (according to the Census 2011). No public holiday is given in any of these countries to mark the occasion, but that’s not to say it is not celebrated or shared.
Eid celebrations in the West
In non-Muslim countries, there are numerous Eid events that are open to everyone in society. In the UK, ‘Eid in the Park’ is held in Birmingham and is one of the largest Eid celebrations in the country. It takes place at Small Heath Park with a host of entertainment such as an amusement park, bungee jumping, bouncy castle and rodeo to name but a few.
In Central London, there is an open invitation to everyone to attend the Mayor of London’s ‘Eid on the Square’ held at Trafalgar Square. This will be the 13th year of the event which showcases food, entertainment and fashion, and is free for all to attend.
In the US, Houston, Texas, the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) will hold Eid prayers at the NRG Arena which holds up to 8,000 people.
In Australia at Lakemba Mosque in Sydney about 30,000 people attend one of the country’s largest Eid celebrations. Similarly, in Melbourne and Canberra huge Eid Fair’s are hosted for everyone to attend, share and enjoy.
For the most part, non-Muslim countries are becoming more accepting of religious differences which makes it easier to share Eid on a global scale as well as locally with immediate neighbors. After all, they have heard you clattering around in the kitchen in the predawn hours, they have seen you leaving in the evening to attend iftars and taraweeh and noticed you coming back late at night if not early morning, so they know that something is going on.
Share Eid joy with others
As Ramadan begins, take some time to explain the basics and share some of the food of Ramadan with your neighbors. This will translate into a better understanding of Islam, tolerance, patience, blessings and even d’awah. By the time Eid comes around, they too will be looking forward to sharing in the spirit of Eid day with you.
On Eid day, you can give a gift to your neighbor as it is beneficial in the form of d’awah and as an act of kindness to a non-Muslim. Do take the opportunity to pop something on Islamic education in with the gift bag.
When it comes to your child’s non-Muslim school, why not introduce Eid to the school? Talk to other Muslim parents and to the teachers and principal to showcase Eid/Islam. Get a program going, get your child’s opinion, ask people from the ummah for their assistance – and bring the spirit of Eid into the schools of our children.
While all of these global celebrations of Eid are happening with large-scale prayers, Eid fairs and family gatherings, let us not forget to extend the spirit of Eid to those who are poor and needy.
The giving of charitable donations in the form of money, food or clothing goes a long way to helping those less fortunate than ourselves. You can organize and distribute boxed meals to the homeless, or give bags of groceries to families in need or give clothing to shelters, or simply give of your time. The spirit of giving is most important. It’s a chance for you to give back and ensure that Eid is a day for all in the ummah and those who are deserving of help.
First published: June 2017