R'11 Day Thirty: Eid Snapshots

So here we are, the culmination of Ramadan leading to a celebration called Eid ul-Fitr. And Muslims know how to party (HALALLY!) since we rarely get occasions to celebrate. Well, twice a year actually, one after Ramadan and another after the yearly Hajj (pilgrimage). So in essense, we make the party last as long as we can, whether it be with family, meeting up with groups of friends, attending community events, cooking extravagant meals, buying gifts for others (ahem, and sometimes for ourselves!), etc. I'm taking a time-out from the Eid festivities to write this blog, as my Eid day always starts our busy but then winds down as I spend time with family and see friends later in the week.

As celebratory and spiritual as Eid is, there were some moments that were quite shocking to me, and in dire need of blogging about. But let's start with the good first!

The Good!

One of the hallmarks of Eid is the prayer that Muslims attend the morning of, around 9am (RSVP time), but the actual prayer wasn't started until well after 10am. The BMO Centre on Stampede grounds was the main (and largest) prayer site, with mosques also holding prayers, as well as the University and other locations. The morning of the prayer involves (halally!!) glamming up and making the trek downtown, and then patiently waiting in the parking line until you are shown were you and MANY other Muslims will park. I then enjoy watching the cultural diversity so apparent in the clothing women wear, and just how quickly the transition from Ramadan switches from fasting to glamming in less than 12 hours! SubhanAllah amazing!!

The best part is walking into the giant hall and watching for flailing arms of your friends and your family beckoning you to their very organized and reserved-for-you prayer space! The hugs and mubaraks escalate as you text, IM, and Facebook check-in to make sure you MILK the fact that it's EID and everyone known where the heck you are so they can find you! :) During this time, you may be taking pictures, texting other friends, and trying to hear the speakers over the loudness of greetings and children! Time rolls by and more speakers and dignitaries come onto the stage, and you wonder how much longer until the prayer!! Then we're asked to stand and straighten the lines, and there's something about praying in THIS big of a location with THIS many people that sent shivers and goosebumps all over me and I didn't want the prayer to end. It's rare, apart from Hajj, to get this feeling from prayer since we're always in our mosques or homes praying. It was sad when the prayer came to an end, it seemed really short! And then the greetings and hugs started, and the photos, and then the flailing towards other friends we noticed who were close-by! In the mean time, it's IMPOSSIBLE to hear Imam Hammoud speak, even though he's shouting into the microphone! And as time winds down and the prayer hall empties, we make our way outside and try to meet the male side of my family to head towards our annual Good Earth coffee post-Eid prayer retreat :P Good times!!

The Bad

As reported from my friend Madiha, the doors to the hall were closed after a certain point when prayer had started, and no one else was being allowed in. My hypothesis is that this is not due to the disturbance factor, but perhaps that the back area towards the door had to be clear to keep in line with fire code standards. I don't want to think about what would happen had a fire alarm gone off and we had to evacuate. Anyway, some women did not like the fact that they were LATE to prayer and wanted to get inside, and were resorting to lying (i.e. "my son is in there!" when prayer spaces are gender segregated!) and aggressive behaviours (i.e. pushing and shoving an older non-Muslim lady who was a Stampede ground volunteer). Is this how we treat others and represent Islam?! It's embarrassing to think of women doing this when they should have planned better to arrive on time and not an HOUR late! But I mean, on Eid of all days, does it really call for viciousness? Just go and pray in the adjacent room and come back when prayer is over for the speech. YEESH! I feel horribly bad for the volunteers who aren't Muslim and Inshallah did not gain a bad sense of what Islam is about. I sincerely hope someone from our community talks to these volunteers and apologizes on our behalf for anyone who may have been out of line with them. Because this was just...bad!

The Ugly

As I glanced around the prayer hall, my eyes focused on a Grade 3 girl I had known since she was 4 years old. I squinted and tried to readjust my eyes to make sure it was her, and was appalled when she came closer. My jaw dropped as did my mom's. This 8 year-old girl was dressed like a teenager who was dressed to impress. Her naturally curly hair had been straightened and highlighted blond, she was wearing EYELINER and MASCARA and LIPSTICK, HUGE DANGLY EARRINGS, FAKE NAILS, a TIGHT WHITE DRESS, HEELS, and she was chewing gum all at the time. Not to mention, and thanks to Mina for noticing this, but she CARRIED herself like a teenager on a catwalk...she brusher her coiffed bangs out of her eyes, walked with a slight swagger, and was not looking like the innocent eight year old girl she should be. I still can't get her image out of my head. Also, after texting my friend Madiha, she let me know of a 5-year old girl who was dressed like a teenage rock star. SubhanAllah, I am nauseated.

So how can I put this...why the heck are mothers allowing their young daughters to dress up like hoochie mamas?! I am outraged and disgusted! Do they NOT know that it's not only the attention their daughters get from dressing this way that will affect them in the long run, but the WAY they carry themselves and behave in terms of body language that forever changes?! (in comparison, this girl's friend was dressed appropriately in a beautifully covered red and gold dress with her hair in curls, appropriate for an eight-year old. What a stark contrast!). What is Eid anyway, a child beauty pageant? Why are you not only forcing your daughters to grow up sooner by dressing her this way, but you're setting her up for severe failure when she becomes a teenager?! No wonder she needs to get married when she's 16, you've taught her that her body is for display, and the type of attention she'll get at sweet 16 is NOT the type you want.

But altogether...

Don't get me wrong, Eid so far has been an amazing day! I just truly don't understand why people tend to lose themselves in bad and ugly things. Whether it's Shaaytan or a slip in use of reasoning, I don't know, SubhanAllah. But really...there's NEVER a reason to be aggressive and violent towards another person, and NEVER a reason to showcase your daughter like a model wanna-be. Islam teaches moderation as a main theme in everything that we do.

I just pray that people quickly gain/re-gain this balance that Islam teachers...and we JUST ended Ramadan last night, what is happening? All I know is that the straight path, "sirataal mustageem", is there...we just need to find it and stay on course. Inshallah!

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