Let the Celebrations Begin..11-Feb-2010

No matter how old we get, we can never forget the joyful memories of Eid back when we were little. Every single detail about Eid used to be exciting for us; the new clothes, the blow dried hair, the 3eedia, the nuts, the visits and the hinna. I remember how I used to count down the days and wake up on Eid day thinking wow, it’s finally Eid.

Unfortunately, all those joyous feelings started to fade away with time. Nowadays, people think of Eid as a very heavy day which we’ll have to spend wandering from one house to the other, kissing people and eating fattening meals & sweets. We tend to travel in Eid to avoid all that hassle. I don’t think that it has anything to do with age since the new generation is feeling the same about it. And back then, our parents and grandparents used to be as excited as we were about it.

It’s very heartbreaking how we don’t get pleasure from the two Eids that Islam granted us as a reward for our worship to Allah. I look around at other religions and cultures and it’s pretty impressive how they create an attractive image of their occasions. Colorful Christmas trees and cute Easter bunnies. And it’s not just the image that attracts; it’s how deep and devoted they feel towards it. We leave our homes in Eid while they fly back home for Christmas. 

Ramadan is the only time for us Muslims to experience something of our own style. Cultural habits and religious practices are strongly implied in that month. In Egypt, streets are beautifully lit with lights and lanterns and packed with children and adults all night long. Luckily for us, my mother does the same to our house. She decorates the fence with lights and hangs a huge lantern by the entrance every year. If every house did the same, can you imagine how beautiful the streets would look? Sadly, we Arabs lack that passion that westerners have. We have a rich culture and a beautiful religion but we’re so ignorant. The least we could do is brand our occasions in a simple and creative way like: Sell Eid/Ramadan greeting cards that are modernly designed, branded food packages (Eid candy for kids, Ramadan treats on the shape of hlal, cupcakes with traditional flavors, etc), and funky wallets or handbags for kids for their 3eedia.

I’m sure that if we search around we’ll find many of those products available. But under a very, very low profile. We need to feel the spirit. We want to see colorful posters on the roads and fun ads on TV. We have to be surrounded with the theme to feel it.

I know several Muslims who celebrate Christmas. They decorate a tree and exchange gifts. It’s very attractive to do so since our markets get filled with Christmas products every year. But do any of us know any Christians who celebrate Eid? I’m sure not. And why would they if WE who are meant to enjoy it find it dull and boring?

There is no shame in looking up at other cultures and admiring their ways of celebrating their occasions. It’s very inspiring and there might be some hidden lessons for us as Muslims. A good example is Thanksgiving day in America. It’s so beautiful how you get to realize the things you’re blessed with and share it with others. It’s a main core in Islam to be thankful for god and be content, but are we? Not at all, we always want more and we only appreciate what we have when we lose it. We don’t have to celebrate Thanksgiving, but why not get inspired from it and learn to be thankful to Allah?

New Year’s is another example. Many extremists think of it as a bed3a and many see it as just another normal night. I personally think that it’s much more than that and I’m not talking about celebrations. It’s amazing how our days form months and how those months form years. It’s a beautiful way to measure our time as living human beings on earth. And by the end of each year we get a chance to look back at what we’ve achieved and what we want to achieve in that brand new coming year. I see it as a refreshing chance to wrap up the past and start over. 

There is something new in everything we see around us and everyone we meet. And as Muslims we have a message to deliver to the rest of the world. A message that reflects how lenience and miraculous Islam is. And the easiest way to do that is by expressing our devotion through spreading joy and fun in those special days. Let’s not allow any extremists to limit our creativity in creating that attractive image. And instead of walking around London wishing that Christmas was our thing, let’s aim for a day when they’ll walk around our streets wishing that Islam was their thing.

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