written by Theresa Corbin for About Islam
No matter what the weather, no matter how tasty the Eid breakfast, no matter how well I felt my Ramadan went, for many years after I converted to Islam, I followed the same old Eid pattern.
Wake up. Pray fajr (morning prayer). Eat breakfast. Go to Eid Prayer.
Then I, my husband or both of us, would go to school or work. It was anti-climactic at best.
After a month of character building, spiritual highs and building a better relationship with the Quran, it was always right back to pre-Ramadan business as usual, hoping to keep the lessons and increased faith as we exited the month un-commemorated.
Until one year, I said enough! I put my foot down and didn’t go into work. I took the day off of school and insisted my husband do the same. Guess what happened?
No, the world didn’t fall apart. No, we didn’t fail our classes. We actually enjoyed ourselves.
We spent time to acknowledge what Ramadan meant to us and to celebrate our successes in it. And because of our celebration we felt more Muslim somehow. We felt closer to our community. We felt better prepared to move on and face the challenges of life outside of Ramadan.
In the Western world where few even know what Eid is, it is very difficult to get out of day to day commitments to celebrate the holiday or rather the holy day. It is even more difficult to have that holiday feeling when those around you are treating the day like any other ordinary day.
As converts, we have to give up a lot of our old holidays when we come into Islam. Giving up holidays where everyone is celebrating and everything is decorated can be difficult.
Many of us treasure our holiday memories and family traditions. But as Muslim we are not left with nothing in the place of our old tradition. As converts we can and must make new traditions and create a holiday feeling for ourselves.
Why Celebrate? For Gratification and Gratitude
It is important to carve out time on Eid al-Fitr day to take a moment and punctuate your success in Ramadan. Celebrating the achievement of our goals can do a lot to help us have a healthy outlook on future goals. For many of us converts who didn’t have the years and years of training in fasting as children when it is OK to slip up, Ramadan can prove to be a challenge.
So once we have reached our Ramadan goals, why shouldn’t we celebrate, why shouldn’t we take the time to congratulate ourselves and be thankful to Allah for guiding us? When we fail to take time to celebrate our successes and thankfulness we unintentionally ignore them.
To Feel Belonging
Eid is a group celebration. Celebrating as a group bestows a sense of belonging, something crucial to feeling fulfilled. Many converts feel isolated from their community and refuse to even attend Eid prayer, citing that a lot of born Muslims are guarded when it comes to converts. Even though this kind of treatment is unacceptable, for converts to miss out on Eid prayer is a mistake and a missed opportunity.
Being present at celebrations like Eid will allow regular members of the community to become familiar with us. And when we involve ourselves more and more in the Islamic gatherings, like Eid, we start to feel a sense of belonging and fulfillment.
To Shape Our Identity
Celebrating Eid shapes our identity as Muslims. The hadith:
“Whoever imitates a people is from them.” (Abu Dawud)
Meaning that once you imitate, try to copy, you are no longer just imitating you are actually that type of person. This is often cited when talking about imitating the non-Muslims. But what does it mean when it comes to being Muslims?
Usually when we think of imitation of others, we think of it in terms of an insult of debasing ourselves. But this is not true when we imitate the best of mankind-the imitation of the Prophet Muhammad.
When we become Muslims and do as the Prophet did, this no longer is a type of imitation as the hadith suggests. We are in reality from the Muslims. Celebrating Eid al-Fitr can do a lot to shape that Islamic identity.
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