Dr. O blogs at Muslim Medicine, a site that strives to serve only the freshest grade-A certified ẓabiḥah ḥalāl comedy. Contact your local ḥalāl butcher for more details.
Did you ever stop to wonder what it would be like if Muslim families could also celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah in their own homes? Of course you didn’t – that’s haram. Muslims have a profoundly intimate holiday meant just for ourselves- a spectacularly grand culmination of an entire month’s worth of fasting, prayer, fasting, devotion, fasting, worship, remembrance, fasting, charity, fasting, self-reflection, fasting, and fasting. We have something no other faith has, and that’s the blessed day of Eid’l-Fitr. Now if we could just get a day off from work or school to enjoy it, that would be fantastic, but hey, we’ll settle for cutting school and calling out sick from work to have a day of merriment, festivity, and busting a groove:
Eid’l-Fitr is a day of tremendous joy and unparalleled happiness that marks the conclusion of Ramadan with memorable golden moments of heavenly songs, ecstatic dances, loud fanfare, triple-awkward hugging of random people at the mosque, heartfelt family reunions, gift-giving to all your loved ones, and ugly fighting over moon-sighting while declaring others who don’t follow your sighting as deviant for keeping their fast on your day of Eid. This, my friends, is the beauty of Eid’l-Fitr.
Eid’l-Fitr – the other Islamic holiday that goats actually enjoy
Of all the Eid festivities, what everyone looks forward to the most isn’t gorging on food mid-day to celebrate the fact that the word “lunch” has finally returned our vocabulary (and to your stomach) for the rest of the year, nor is it the notion that the sins you commit now can totally go back to being blamed on Shaitan. What everyone (kids most of all) always look forward to year after year are the EID GIFTS.
When’s the last time an ‘Eid gift made you feel like this…?
Without a doubt, gift-giving is one of the major highlights of Eid and it solidifies the bonds of love we have for one another, because nothing says love like an envelope of Eid money with your name on it. But that’s where the stress comes in. The hours upon hours spent racing through malls, toy stores, online catalogs, Wal-mart’s discount sale section, and if you’re really desperate- your own closet, all in search of suitable Eid gifts for everyone on your list. Gift-giving is a highly-refined and deeply intricate art, and fortunately for you, here’s a quick 5-step guide to show you the tips and tricks that’ll make your Eid gifts unforgettable this year.
1 FIND OUT WHAT YOUR RECIPIENT WANTS
This is perhaps the single most important aspect of Eid shopping. The best Eid gift givers are the ones who tailor each gift to fit the likes of each recipient. Apparently it’s human nature to like money, which is why simply giving cash or gift cards for Eid is a lazy but easy cop out- but offering actual gifts that people secretly want is probably the greatest feeling of joy you could give them.
So this is finally your chance to be a super secret FBI agent, and spy on someone else for a change to gather intel on their likes and wants (feels kinda cool when you’re not the one being victimized by blatant FBI spying, hmm?). When they drop clues about things that they’ve had their eyes on, or stuff that they’ve always wanted to have but couldn’t get for one reason or another- that’s your golden opportunity!
Try disguising yourself as common household furniture to eavesdrop on conversations. Someone’s bound to drop a hint sooner or later…
Same for your other loved ones or friends- play a detective and try and figure out what kind of stuff they’ve been asking about lately! Husbands, brothers, and dads- when you’re out and about with your loved one, keep an eye on her and watch carefully when she window shops- sisters usually drop subtle hints about fancy clothes, accessories, or items that catch their eyes.
Here’s a tip, married guys – if you’re on a tight budget, DON’T take her window shopping to a jewelry store before Eid.
Sisters, want to get a gift for your dad, husband, or brother that isn’t something played out and cliche like ties, thoubes, and cologne? Guys are easy to figure out- we’re simplistic folk who enjoy the more fundamental things in life, like peace and solace in our bathroom time, or a leg rest for reclining when we spend hours frothing at the mouth over a sports game.
Here’s a tip, married girls- if your husband looks at you and says “Sweety all I want for ‘Eid … is you ♥,” consider it a TRAP. He’s just kissing up to get some food.
And no matter what you do, NEVER EVER directly ask your recipient what they want for ‘Eid because then that ruins the surprise, makes them feel selfish and uncomfortable, makes you look desperate, ruins the entire mood of Eid, undermines the sanctity of the family, and decays the moral standing of our ummah.
2 HAVE MERCY ON YOUR WALLET OR PURSE
Yeah, we know the feeling of despair that grows in your stomach as you peer at your massive list of family members- if you get an Eid gift for one niece or nephew, you pretty much have to get a gift for all of them or risk causing enough political strife and social revolution to spark an Egyptian Revolution in your own living room. Some families have come up with a cost-friendly solution for that- which is to have a tradition of just not giving gifts.
It’s all cute smiles and giggles until you tell them there’s no Eid gifts.
Giving Eid gifts isn’t about being a billionaire philanthropist, nor trying to be a magical Muslim Santa Claus attempting to grant the deepest wishes of all your family members by silently breaking into their homes the night before Eid and placing gifts underneath their prayer rugs. It’s the niyyah that counts, and its the genuine goodwill and love that really matters in the end. Sure, little kids never see it that way and will totally call you lame and hate you for giving them lousy gifts, but that’s nothing a few slaps and angry Islamic lectures about respecting elders can’t fix. So don’t spend ridiculous amounts of money on your gifts- give from your means, and if you want to spend a little more to show a little more love- then hey, go for it.
But keep in mind that kids nowadays have a pretty sharp memory, and they’ll usually come to expect bigger and better Eid gifts year after year. Snot-nosed ungrateful little whiners- I mean, masha’Allah, such lovable little angels, the light of our eyes and the joy of our hearts.
3 DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT GIFTS
Hey, wanna play a really fun Islamic game?
Done yet? …No? Then take your time. There’s no rush. It really doesn’t take a Grand Mufti to figure this puzzle out… just make sure you solve the Eid Gift Matchup Game before reading onwards, though- it’d be pretty sad if you had to resort to cheating on a game meant for kids. Alrighty then! Have you got your answers in your head? Hold on to your wuḍū’- we’re about to blow your mind.
So then! You just helped out Little Fatima with her Eid gifts, didn’t you? Masha’Allah, you’re such a sweet person! But you’re totally wrong. You gave the frying pan to mommy (shame on you, brothers), the beard trimmer to daddy, Super Street Fighter 4 to Billal, and then you probably got really confused between the gifts left for baby Aaliyah, Little Fatima, and Spiderman. But see… you used stereotypes and assumptions to guide your gift-selection, and you didn’t use your skills of Eid Gifting in-between the lines.
You see about 4 years ago, Mommy made a delicious egg omelet for breakfast, and after trying it, Daddy carelessly commented by saying, “meh, it tastes okay.” Since that day, Mommy has never forgotten that hurtful comment, and this year for Eid she’s getting Daddy a frying pan so that he can feel the frustration of frying food and not being appreciated for it.
Mommy bribed Fatima by offering her a My Little Pony toy for Eid if she kept quiet about Mommy’s secret plan. Billal, now reaching that awkward age of puberty, has started to grow a small itchy mustache, and Daddy’s getting him a beard trimming kit for Eid to celebrate his entry into manhood. While shopping at Toys R Us for a Tickle Me Elmo meant for baby Aaliyah, Daddy comes across the video game aisle and spots Super Street Fighter 4- knowing how much his wife loves fighting games, he decides to buy the game for her.
And now we’re left with Spiderman. And all Spiderman has ever wanted for Eid all these lonely years is to finally cuddle up with his primary care physician Doctor Octopus and watch his favorite episodes of Dora the Explorer.
Take a lesson from this exercise, friends. Eid’l-Fitr is serious business. Don’t make assumptions about Eid Gifts.
4 MAKE SURE YOUR EID GIFTS DON’T OFFEND
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking- “This is Eid’l-Fitr, for crying out loud! How could giving an Eid Gift ever be a bad thing?!” First of all, stop crying out loud – it’s Eid. Why are you crying about Eid, anyway? Man up. Second of all, Muslims are pioneers in the field of stinging criticism, and even something as universally wonderful as Eid Gifts can become a means of making subtle commentary.
Suddenly Karim didn’t feel so excited about getting Eid gifts from his wife anymore
Sometimes the choices you make for Eid gifts may backfire, and land you in serious trouble, or worse- may jeopardize your health and well-being.
Layla gave her brother an Eid gift in return: a free trip to the hospital
5 BE GRATEFUL
So your aunt gives you pants that don’t really fit you, your best friend gives you a pack of diapers as a joke, and your mom gets you a cute Pokemon t-shirt despite the fact that you’re 25 years old. Sometimes Eid gifts aren’t exactly what you expect, nor what you’re hoping to get at all. But the point is to always remember that these gifts, no matter they may be, are always given out of love for you, and anything that you receive (or don’t receive) is from the mercy and bounties of Allāh .
Keep in mind that not getting your XBOX Kinect this year or getting just $10 from your grandmother is not something you should ever complain about or throw tantrums over. Every gift, regardless of how small or grand it is, is a blessing that deserves your respect and thankfulness. If you’ve got the means, try to give something back that either matches the gifts you’ve received, or goes above and beyond it. That’s true love right there.
And above all else, remember your brothers and sisters abroad whose Eid celebrations are far from joyous, and anything but happy. They may not have grand celebrations, epic feasts, expensive gifts, or glittering Eid clothes- but their happiness on that day means just as much as yours, and truth be told… …they really do deserve and desperately need that glimmer of joy more than we do. So don’t just keep them in mind- keep them in your hearts as well.
For all of the deeds that you’ve accomplished over this past month, for all of the people that you’ve helped and comforted, for all the nights you’ve spent alone pouring your heart out into your duas, may Allāh accept all of it and reward you all immensely for everything, and reserve for each of you a beautiful abode in the highest level of Paradise. May your good words and actions during this month be returned to you a thousand-fold on the Day of Reckoning and may they anchor your scales in favor of spending an eternity in the wondrous Gardens of our Lord.
May Allāh grant you and your families His blessings, protection, provisions, and the very best of opportunities both in this world and the next, and may He bring you all together and increase you all in love and happiness both with your close friends and with your families. May this Ramadan be the month that secures our entry through the grand gates of Ar-Rayyan.