‘Eid is a chance to celebrate the wonderful Muslim community that shaped who I am today’

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‘Eid is a chance to celebrate the wonderful Muslim community that shaped who I am today’

The meaning of Eid changes as you age, but like many religious festivals, it serves as a moment in time to come back to community. Whether it’s the “small” Eid after Ramadan (Eid-ul-Fitr) or the “big” one a few months later (Eid-ul-Adha), there is something about interrupting daily life for celebration and worship that never gets old.

Growing up, Eid wasn’t just the one day of prayer. It involved weeks of excitement in the lead up, such as shopping with my mother and choosing a new special outfit for the day. The house would be scoured until it gleamed (the Muslim version of a spring clean), and the requisite sweets were baked (or bought) before being duly laid out on heavily garnished trays for the visitors who would flood the house during the festivities. On the morning of, my father would wake us all up just as the sun rose, and we would go to pray.

These are my foundational memories of “community” as a child. Walking towards the large field behind the local Muslim school towards the lines of shiny blue tarpaulin that had been laid out before dawn and hearing the sonorous, soothing chant of worship wash over me: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. La ilaha illa Allah, Allah Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lilahi alhamd.” Smiling at each other as we passed, wishing friends and strangers alike an “Eid Mubarak”, blessings on blessings, good tidings for the year ahead.

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Aunties – blood relatives or not – who I hadn’t seen in for a year would coo over “how much I’d grown”, uncles would loudly clasp each other’s forearms in greeting, friends would compare outfits. There would be food, laughter, and the soft drink and tea was always flowing. And although I didn’t realise it at the time, these people were the people who were moulding me into the person I am today.

As I grew older, I moved away. I started working on oil and gas rigs, and would spend Eid calling family and smiling nostalgically at photos on my social media feeds. Settling into adult life, Eid was now spent with friends in different cities around the world. We learnt to create our own rituals and traditions, but as it turned out, they always had something in common with our childhood experiences. No matter where we were from, we found ourselves striving to replicate that feeling: yearning for a sense of belonging, meaning, and ultimately, community.

The Muslim “community” is often referred to as a single monolithic entity, but rest assured that not all Muslims share the same conception of it, or even believe themselves to be a part of it. Are we all part of a “community” by default? How important are they? And how much of ourselves do we owe to them?

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1/40Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Muslim pilgrims throw stones towards the symbolic devil represented by a Jamarat (Burning Coal) on the last day of the Muslims Hajj 2018 pilgrimage in the tent City of Mina near Mecca, Saudi Arabia

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

People at a fairground set up celebrate Eid Al-Adha in Burgess Park, south London

REUTERS

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Ivorian Muslims pray during the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid-al- Adha in Abidjan

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

People take a selfie during Eid-El-Kabir festival in Dakar

AFP/Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Girls pose with a frame decorated with holiday wishes after Eid al-Adha prayers, held in a sports hall in Bucharest, Romania

AP

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

A Palestinian man throws his child in the air following morning prayers marking the first day of Eid al-Adha celebrations

Reuters

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Jamil, eight months-old, lies on the floor during Eid al-Adha prayers, held in a sports hall in Bucharest, Romania

AP

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

A Muslim pilgrim arrives to throw stones towards the symbolic devil represented by a Jamarat

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Muslim pilgrims head to take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil at the Jamarat Bridge in Mina, near Mecca

AFP/Getty Images

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Families enjoy rides on the dodgems during an Eid in the Park celebration at the New River Sports ground in Wood Green, London

Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Ivorian Muslims pray during the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid-al- Adha in Abidjan

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Muslims attend a morning prayer at the industrial wasteland of Parco Dora in Turin

AFP/Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

A boy cast stones at the huge stone pillar in the symbolic stoning of the devil during the annual Haj pilgrimage on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Mina, outside the holy city of Mecca

AP

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Members of Naples’ muslim community gather at Garibaldi Square

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

A Syrian boy, dressed in his holiday outfit, prays over the tomb of a loved one

AFP/Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Men prepare to eat during Eid al-Adha celebrations in the village of Kok-Jare outside Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Palestinians attend prayer on the first day of Eid al Adha in Gaza City

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

A man attends a Muslim morning prayer gathering at the industrial wasteland of Parco Dora in Turin

AFP/Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Cairo, Egypt

Muslims try to catch balloons distributed for free after Eid al-Adha prayers outside al-Seddik mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, August 21.

AP

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Afghans greet each other after congregational prayers during the holy festival of Eid al-Adha, in Kabul

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

A man distributes sweets to children after Eid al-Adha prayer at King Abdul Aziz Mosque, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Kosovo boys pray to mark the first day of Eid al-Adha outside the Sultan Mehmet Fatih mosque in Pristina

AP

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

A child holds up a selfie stick before morning prayers in Quezon City, Philippines

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Muslim Hajj pigrims pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque on the first day of Eid al Adha in Mecca

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Palestinians attend prayer on the first day of Eid al Adha in Gaza City

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Palestinians attend prayer on the first day of Eid al Adha in Gaza City

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

A clown distributes balloons near the Dome of the Rock at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s old city on the first day of Eid al-Adha

AFP/Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

A young Palestinian girl flies a helium balloon near the Dome of the Rock at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s old city

AFP/Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Women and children conduct morning prayers to mark Eid al-Adha at a public park in Quezon City, Philippines

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Muslim Hajj pigrims pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque on the first day of Eid al Adha in Mecca

EPA

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Men hug each other after offering Eid al-Adha prayers outside of the Shah-e-Dushamshera mosque in Kabul

AP

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Children dressed in their holiday clothes play on a swing in the opposition-held southern Syrian city of Daraa on the first day of Eid al-Adha

AFP/Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Bamako, Mali

Malian women have their hair cut and styled in a salon, on the eve of Eid al-Adha in Bamako on August 20, 2018.

AFP/Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Almaty, Kazakhstan

A man squats as he carries a sheep during a competition to mark Kurban-Ait, also known as Eid al-Adha, at the Central Mosque in Almaty, Kazakhstan August 21, 2018.

Reuters

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Nairobi, Kenya

Muslims attend prayers to mark Kurban-Ait, also known as Eid al-Adha, at an open field in Nairobi, Kenya August 21, 2018.

Reuters

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Kavaja, Albania

Albanian Muslims pray in the main square of Kavaja on August 21, 2018, to mark the first day of the Eid al-Adha Festival.

AFP/Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Gaza City

Palestinian women take a selfie while waiting for for prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha festival, in Gaza City August 21, 2018.

Reuters

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Muscat, Oman

Muslim men take part in the morning prayers outside a mosque in the Omani capital Muscat on the first day of Eid al-Adha on August 21, 2018.

AFP/Getty

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Pristina, Kosovo

Kosovo men pray to mark the first day of Eid al-Adha outside the Sultan Mehmet Fatih mosque in Pristina, Kosovo, Tuesday, August 21, 2018.

AP

Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world

Beirut, Lebanon

Muslims perform the Eid al-Adha prayer outside Al Ameen Mosque in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, 21 August 2018

EPA

Spending time and energy thinking about and investing in the communal rather than the individual may seem quaint, old-school even, in a world inundated with messages of individual success. But it is worth tempering the hubris and remembering how much of who we are is a matter of chance. Our parents, our early education and even our place of birth have significant impacts on our lives and chances of “success”. Behind every winner is an army of people who have made it possible: a coach, a dedicated teacher, a mother working double shifts.

My achievements would have been impossible if it weren’t for my parents and the people who surrounded me growing up. The best way to honour that is to be that backbone for others. Pay it forward, if you will. After all, isn’t that what community is all about?

Eid Mubarak!


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