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The Art of Overcoming Negativity

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“Don’t go out in the scorching heat!”

This sounds like the advice of a well-wisher to someone they sincerely care about. However, these were the words spoken to the true believers, by the Munafiqeen of Madinah, when the former was preparing to go out for jihad in the way of Allah [Qur’an– 9:81].

It is a common phenomenon for those who strive in the way of Allah in any manner to face criticism, disdainful remarks, outright antagonism, or severe persecution from skeptics who may be from near and dear kin, or strangers on the street.  From the looks on their faces, silent sullenness, verbal discouragement, to in-your-face, targeted personal attacks, a believer must be prepared to face negative circumstances and situations as a “normal” part of his day-to-day jihad of treading the path that leads towards Allah’s Pleasure.

However, let’s be realistic. We are all sons and daughters of Adam [peace be upon him]. We are human beings with emotions and feelings who can be hurt by what others say.  We need support and reassurance for what we do, even if we know we’re right.  Unfortunately, negative thoughts and attitudes are far more contagious than positive enthusiasm. Therefore, the believer must strive consciously to keep his or her thoughts and actions positive in order to stay motivated to do good deeds that benefit mankind.

There are several ways to achieve the goal of staying positive, but the first and most crucial – identify negative people. This awareness is necessary so that one may be alert to their negative vibes in order to blunt their effect on one’s mind and soul. The following are some of the traits negative people possess:

1.  They’re quick to criticize

If someone makes a mistake, these people can be depended upon to mercilessly chastise them before anyone else does, and in great length and depth.

2.  They criticize everyone

No one is safe from their critique, not their near and dear ones, nor the people they see on television; the politicians, teachers, preachers, family-friends, siblings, or children – no one! Their pointing finger spares no one.

3.  They don’t admit their shortcomings

These people never admit that they could be wrong, or that they made a mistake; even if everyone else points out their mistake, they either defend themselves to the end, or storm out.

4.  They complain, complain, and complain

Meetings or conversations with such people are full of complaints against everyone.

5.   They blame others for everything that goes wrong

If something goes wrong in their life, it’s always someone else’s fault.

6.  They’re stingy and small-hearted

This is a trait that is uncannily found in all complainers, scrooges, and grouches. They usually have a very “tight hand”- i.e. they find it difficult to give old things away, even if the latter are of no use to them, or have been stashed away since ages. They will find excuses like, “I spent a hundred dollars on that! How could I just give it to some poor person?” or “Oh, you expect me to just throw out these things that I hold so dear to my heart?”

7.  They’re stuck in a rut

Since negative people have a pessimistic, non-progressive view of life in general, their state does not improve over the years. If they have some bad habits, they will do little to get rid of them.  If they engage in useless activities to pass away boring hours in their day, they will still be involved in them years later. You will never find them improving their look, working out to lose weight, learning a new skill, or re-doing their house with new colors.  Holding on to each and every old piece of furniture or gadgetry; every blouse, shirt or pair of pants; every old utensil in the kitchen – their house and persona will look the same, even if you see them a decade later!

8.  They harbor lifelong grudges

Negative people bear long-term grudges against others based on trivial, bygone incidents. They neither forgive, nor do they forget.  Backbiting being a constant part of their lives, they unceasingly repeat the wrongs others did to them in the past, ensuring they never wash away the bad memories. In this way, they keep themselves shackled to destructive emotions and thoughts.

9.  They’re prone to prejudice

Negative people are swayed easily by rumors or hearsay. They might harbor ethnic or racial prejudices for no apparent reason. You might see them refuse to talk or warm to a person they hardly know; they refuse to befriend them, due to some trivial thing they heard about them, or because the latter belong to some other ethnic/social class or group.

10.  They’re usually in a bad mood

Negative people are grouchy – you hardly see them smiling or being cheerful. They brood over bad incidents for long periods of time.

11.  They have a self-depreciating attitude

Negative people, sadly, undermine their own talents and abilities as well. If they can do something well, such as cooking, sewing, knitting, painting, teaching or writing, they won’t bother to pursue their interest with zeal. Rather, they’ll just shrug it off with a “What good will that (hobby) do?” devil-may-care attitude and go on with the same old monotonous routine of their life, day after day.

If you are honest with yourself, you might have recognized some of yourself above as well. It’s a fact — we are all prone to think negative thoughts; we go through cyclical bouts of positive-negative attitudes; the trouble with negative people, though, is that they are negative most of the time, and this affects those they converse with, or hang around, on a regular basis. The purpose of listing the above identifiers is not to judge others, but for us, as Muslims, to be able to empower ourselves to identify and counter this negativity in others, with positive reactions and responses.

The fact is that even if we do not meet a negative person for some time, the chaotic and depressing events of the world, plus the negative thoughts our avowed enemy, Iblis, places in our minds, will bog us down and lower our spirits time and again. When that happens, we should immediately become alert and fight off any kind of negative thinking with the following steps:

1.  Remember and take solace from the traumatic incidents that took place in the lives of Allah’s Prophets

Pick any Prophet of Allah. Go ahead, pick one. Then analyze the incidents in his life and come up with one that would have severely traumatized you, had it happened to you. Imagine being swallowed by a gargantuan animal in the sea; being persecuted for an accidental death caused unintentionally by you, necessitating you to flee your town in hiding; being afflicted with a disease that infested your body with vermin and killed off all your family members; being stoned out of a village by young children; being sent to prison to serve a sentence of several years for a crime you did not commit; having your most beautiful son taken away from your life for years; rocking the lifeless body of your infant son in your arms as tears flow down your cheeks.

Whenever you lose your job, or a dear one to the Angel of Death, fall ill with a painful disease, or can’t find fairness in the Qadr of Allah when He refuses to give you that which you beseech Him for, close your eyes and imagine – literally, imagine – yourself going through what any one of the Prophets went through, and then stop yourself from thinking negative thoughts such as, “O Allah! Why ME? WHY?” and instead think, “Allah has some good written in it for me – He knows, and I do not know; and I accept His Decision.” Insha’Allah, the calm you will feel in your heart will be tremendous. Your avowed enemy will be shaken off, throwing dust on his head.

2.  Identify a negative thought by comparing it to reality

“I’ve been afflicted with financial trouble for the last 3 years. I don’t think I’ll ever see prosperity again.  My spouse will leave me and I’ll be left all alone.”This is a classic negative thought!  Whenever you think a thought such as this in the midst of a calamity, take the objective, impartial approach towards it as outlined below, preferably with the help of a pen and paper:

  • List down a painful event or affliction that you can remember, which happened to either you or someone you know in the past.
  • Then try to recall how long it took for that calamity to be over. You’ll realize that it eventually passed, and things became alright again.
  • Try to recall also, the attitude of everyone involved during that calamity. Identify the things said by the ‘negative people’ (traits of whom are listed above) and whether their pessimistic warnings turned out to be true or not. You’ll realize that Allah eventually brought everyone out of the mess, and the ‘storms in teacups’ brewed by the scrooges never materialized!
  • Apply this scenario to your current calamity, and force yourself to have blind trust in Allah. Think that, if He removed the calamity for everyone then, He will help you thus in this one as well.Whenever I perform this mental exercise, I am left feeling hopeful in Allah’s imminent Help and positive about future ease, alhamdulillah!

3.  Counter each negative thought with a positive one

CBT or “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” is a formal psychiatric treatment used for remedying mental diseases today. It is a very simple tool, one that even our Deen has endorsed in order to allow a person to control their thoughts and not vice versa. For example, in CBT, if a person thinks, “That person is surely trying to make me look bad at work,” they are supposed to counteract this thought with something like, “But why would he do that? He’s a good guy and we’ve always gotten along.”

Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] exhorted believers to seek excuses for their brothers 70 times. That means, when a negative thought comes in our mind regarding someone else, we should counter it with a positive one up to 70 times.

For myself, with just 10 counteractive volleys, the negative thought has gone away!For example, a thought like, “Mom always showers more love on my brother’s son than she does on my daughter.  Look at how many things she gets him.  She’s always preferred my brother over me in everything!” may be countered with a positive thought such as, “If I wasn’t such a hyper-mom-control-freak around her regarding my baby, she’d feel comfortable enough to shower her with love.  I really need to let go and allow her to spoil my daughter sometimes.”

4.  Always look for the silver lining:

Allah says in the Qur’an, “Surely, with difficulty, there is ease.” [Qur’an- 94:5]

Whenever you are worried about something, or passing through a trial, always believe that Allah intends some good to come out of it. Give yourself flashbacks from your past, and try to think of the good outcomes of negative happenings in your past life.

For example, if you did miserably in an exam you studied hard for, maybe it helped you realize that some other subject was more suitable for you. I had a friend who performed horribly on her A-Level exams, which she took in all business subjects and math.  As a result, she could not apply for admission in undergraduate studies at any “technical” or business degree program, except for one majoring in Fine Art, her natural interest and hobby of many years.

Eventually, she graduated with honors on the Dean’s list and went on to pursue a fulfilling career as a permanent faculty member at her Alma Mater. The failure in her A-Levels paved the way for her parents finally letting her do what she really loved doing – art! Had she done well in her Business and Math A-Levels, she could have gone on to pursue a degree and career in a field she did not even enjoy!

5.  Learn to ignore negative people

Allah has taught the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] the best strategy in dealing with negative-minded people — his opponents and antagonists. Remember that he had to constantly face the jabbering, rumor-mongering and hostile criticism of the Munafiqeen of Madinah – who pretended to be Muslim but caused great dissensions and “fasaad” due to their habit of lying, deceiving, breaking promises and covenants, and pretending to be what they were not.

Allah says about them in the Qur’an, “Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.” [Qur’an- 7:199]

“And incline not to the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Disregard their annoying talk, and put your trust in Allah. Allah is sufficient as Trustee.” [Qur’an- 33:48]

Also, in another place in the Qur’an, the same strategy is suggested, “O Yusuf, turn away from this (false accusation of rape).” [Qur’an- 12:29]

This is the simplest and best approach. Cutting off contact with negative people is not the solution, because they might be a close colleague in your department at work, or worse, a directly-related family member (such as – gulp – a parent or spouse!). How can you possibly minimize, or cut off contact with such people?  It is not even allowed in our beautiful Deen to cut off relations like this.

Our Deen teaches us to become strong individuals, who rise above such petty negativity in people, who ignore, forgive and overlook this fault in them, and love them anyway (if they are believers).  Just teach yourself to laugh off and ignore their comments, to appease them with a joke or some positive statements when they start off with their criticism, to change the subject or leave the room if all else fails, and, most importantly, to arrange for their Quranic education and tarbiyah, so that the negativity in them is slowly eliminated.

We all face this negativity in our lives. We have to learn to consciously counter our own negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, if I think, “Will Muslimmatters.org consider this first post of mine good enough to publish? What if they don’t?” I should counter this thought with something like this, “Allah has noted my sincere effort and will bless and reward it anyway, insha’Allah!”

Hope floats! :)

Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan. 11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette. Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'. For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Arif

    December 30, 2008 at 1:35 AM

    Masha’Allah, this was well written! Hope to see more in the future Insha’Allah…

  2. Avatar

    Sajayli

    December 30, 2008 at 9:03 AM

    Yeah, I recognize traits 1 – 11. I grew up in the shadow of a mother who had all those traits and it was very damaging. Mothers should be especially careful about recognizing and trying to counter these traits within themselves.

    Well-written article. Good work.

  3. Avatar

    Sadaf

    December 30, 2008 at 12:14 PM

    Thank you so much for your feedback.

  4. Avatar

    Muhammad

    December 30, 2008 at 1:27 PM

    A superb article and very well articulated. I can relate to many of the points above and the diagnosis and advice is simple and makes sense. A much needed dose in today’s society where the issues raised in this article are all too apparent, and sadly prevalent within the Muslims as well.

    Great work, keep it up.

    (Why aren’t our masaajids and Aalims dealing with such issues??)

  5. Avatar

    Farzana

    December 30, 2008 at 1:53 PM

    I really liked this article!! Please can we have more of it.

  6. Avatar

    Sharif

    December 30, 2008 at 6:50 PM

    This was very perceptive. I know a lot of people like this, lol.

  7. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    December 30, 2008 at 7:09 PM

    Excellent article, masha’Allah! Simple common sense, alHamdulillaah.

  8. Avatar

    h. ahmed

    December 30, 2008 at 8:01 PM

    Jazakallah Khair.

    I for one really needed to read this article, and I thank the author immensely for writing and sharing it here!!!

  9. Avatar

    sis

    December 30, 2008 at 9:11 PM

    jazakallaahu khayran. a very well written and timely piece.

  10. Avatar

    sincethestorm

    December 30, 2008 at 9:41 PM

    great gob sadaf. a very good article.

  11. Avatar

    sincethestorm

    December 30, 2008 at 9:42 PM

    great job sadaf. a very good article.

  12. Avatar

    aamer khan

    December 30, 2008 at 10:04 PM

    ma Sha Allah. awesome article.

  13. Avatar

    vindicated

    December 31, 2008 at 12:05 AM

    Jazakallah Khair. Simply put, yet very effective.

  14. Ali Shehata

    Ali Shehata

    December 31, 2008 at 12:09 AM

    Salaam alaikum Sister Sadaf

    May Allah reward you for your well written article and the great advice it contains. I myself benefited greatly from it and think i will keep a copy for the next time I get “feedback” from a negative person. Alhamdulillah!

  15. Avatar

    anonymous

    December 31, 2008 at 1:44 AM

    mashaAllaah. Tabarakallaah. Ahsanallaah.

  16. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    December 31, 2008 at 2:13 AM

    Jazakumullahu Khairan all, for your dua’s and encouragement. The greatest reward in this world for conveying an Islamic message is to have it understood and effectively put into practice. May Allah enable all of us to remain positive ourselves and also to make negative people become positive in return.

    Actually that is what my experience has shown: that remaining positive in the face of negativity has, in the long-term, the gradual but siginificant effect of eliminating negative thinking in others as well. Particularly, in my extended family, I have seen the problem of job turnover recur often due to the current global economic recession. Sons are returning to Pakistan after completing their studies, or worse, after being laid off from extremely lucrative jobs which they had for years. Sometimes, a son returns with his family, to live with his parents in a single room. This leads a man to become very negative-minded while he is unemployed; during this trial, for his wife, mother and sister to make sure he remains positive while he looks for a new job, is the best sadaqah. But that is only possible if these women themselves learn to channelize their thoughts towards incessant hope and faith in Allah, and remain positive about their son’s/brother’s/husband’s future, no matter what.

    Sisters face a similar storm of negativity if they do not get married before thirty, or if they do not conceive within the first two years after marriage. They not only face their inner agony and turmoil, but the negative reactions of others as well, as nowadays the doctors are quick to label such a married couple as “infertile”, or a single sister over thirty (in Pakistan, they are labelled SWOT’s! “Single Woman Over Thirty”) as “unattractive/undesirable”.

    These incidents became the muse behind my writing this article. :-) May Allah accept it, and reward you all for your encouraging responses.

  17. Avatar

    mohamed ali

    December 31, 2008 at 7:10 AM

    “From the looks on their faces, silent sullenness, verbal discouragement, to in-your-face, targeted personal attacks”

    I have experienced all that and more as a writer.

  18. Avatar

    Nusaybah

    December 31, 2008 at 9:46 AM

    Jazakallahu khayran.. I can’t wait to implement all these tips, in sha Allah..

  19. Avatar

    mohamed ali

    January 1, 2009 at 6:19 AM

  20. Avatar

    UmA

    January 1, 2009 at 11:25 AM

    the comment by someone about their mother having these traits is interesting. Now that I am a mom myself, I think back to the times I thought my mom was always negative. Could it be that I only chose to *remember* the negative times. We’re just not used to recalling the positive events in our childhood until it’s too late to be grateful to our parents! Anyway we are obliged by Allah to cherish our parents no matter how much we do or don’t remember.

    Can we change someone who exudes negativity?

  21. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    January 1, 2009 at 2:51 PM

    UmA – I believe we can. However, it takes time and sustained effort. Also, we need to be mentally alert and conscious about not letting their negative thoughts and actions affect our own deliberate positive stance in life. Positivity works more gradually and permanently (the way Islam took 23 years to get established, and it slowly wiped out all the ills of jahilyyah) whereas negative actions and emotions have a more immediate and profound effect.

    I also agree that there are times when Shaytaan highlights in our minds, the mistakes our parents made in their upbringing of us, especially after we have become adults in a stronger position, and they are old and weak. Shaytaan uses negative thoughts about our parents to make us lose patience with them very quickly, to rebuke them etc….may Allah save us all from this. That’s why Allah has enjoined on us to always ignore our parents’ mistakes and do ihsaan with them. It is indeed a difficult thing to do because its a fact that things like preferrential treatment towards one child by a parent breeds permanent contempt in the hearts of the other children (ref: the brothers of Prophet Yusuf [a.s] and the reasons behind their sequestering of Yusuf). The children should become conscious of this negative train of thought and focus on forgiving and forgetting, and doing goodto their parents in return.

  22. Avatar

    Sara

    January 1, 2009 at 7:27 PM

    Salaam alaikum – MashaAllah I found your article really useful, but quite shocking as I recognised a lot of these traits in myself. I have always battled with negativity for a long time. I would like to marry in a few years InshaAllah but as I’m a difficult person I have always believed I will not find a brother who would be willing to marry me. I realise now this too was negativity, and instead of being upset about our faults we should strive to change them for the sake of Allah and be positive. Some Muslims tend to forget the importance of this, so May Allah reward you for your article and save us all from these negative traits.

  23. Avatar

    JannatFirdaws

    January 5, 2009 at 5:02 AM

    Asalamu alaykum wa Ramatullahi wa barakatuh,

    Jazakhillah khayran for your article. It was well written. Self-Evaluation for me is indeed needed. May Allah make us of the righteous, ameen.

  24. Avatar

    shaheen

    January 5, 2009 at 12:44 PM

    I think there are no negative (or positive) people. Rather there are negetive as well as positive characteristics which are present in all of us. So instead of identifying “people”, we should be identifying the negetive characteristics so that we can avoid hurting ourselves and others with our negetivity. By identifying people as negetive we are assuming ourselves to be positive…and in doing so we would be going against the teachings of the Quran by which we are taught that we cannot assume ourselves to be pure

    He was most knowing of you when He produced you from the earth and when you were fetuses in the wombs of your mothers. So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him (Surah An-Najm..32)

    Apart from this it is a good article specially the practical tips are helpful. The following paragraph towards the end is really good:

    Our Deen teaches us to become strong individuals, who rise above such petty negativity in people, who ignore, forgive and overlook this fault in them, and love them anyway (if they are believers). Just teach yourself to laugh off and ignore their comments, to appease them with a joke or some positive statements when they start off with their criticism, to change the subject or leave the room if all else fails, and, most importantly, to arrange for their Quranic education and tarbiyah, so that the negativity in them is slowly eliminated.

  25. Avatar

    tabassum

    January 6, 2009 at 6:59 AM

    lovely article, really enjoyed reading it

  26. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    January 7, 2009 at 8:56 AM

    Bismillah

    By identifying people as negetive we are assuming ourselves to be positive…and in doing so we would be going against the teachings of the Quran by which we are taught that we cannot assume ourselves to be pure

    I think the Qur’an itself has helped us identify certain kinds of people — not just their characteristics — by the abundance of parables. Allah invites us to ponder on these parables so that we can prevent ourselves from becoming like the people described.
    – The description of the Believer’s heart as compared to the heart of the one who has no Noor, in Surah Al-Noor, verses 35, 40.
    – The parable of the one who spends in the way of Allah against the one who spends for riya – one described as a fertile earth, the other as a hard rock (Surah Al-Baqarah, 264-265)
    – General mention of “Kaafireen”, “Faasiqeen”, “Dhaalimeen” as compared to “Muttaqeen”, “Muflihoon”, “Mu’minoon” (particularly Surah Al-Mu’minoon, First 10 verses). Again, Allah mentions people (grammatically: Faa’il), not just the qualities. He mentions the qualities too, but in reference to their human possessors.
    – The mention of Firaun, Qaroon, Hamaan, Aazar and others, whose negative behavior made them end up in Hell. So, if a da’ee is mentioning these people in his Da’wah, it won’t be wrong for him to use their example in order to warn others not to become like them.

    I disagree that if someone is identifying people – in general, without taking names – as “negative” based on some traits, it means they assume themselves to be positive. Perhaps they analyzed their own negative behavior in bygone days to come up with the list! Or perhaps they observed some behaviors in others which affected them negatively — or a combination of both — self analysis and obervation of others. There is an entire spectrum of behavior between the two extremities of positivity and negativity, and people are usually somewhere in between…with the lucky ones near the positive end. However, it’s a constant battle. The Mu’min keeps a constant check on his behavior, and mentally gives himself a whack on the head if he analyzes himself to have strayed too far from good behavior on one of his “bad days”, rushing to do istighfaar before Allah becomes angry with Him.

    Although I do agree that every person has both negative and positive characteristics, I will also reiterate that, though we should not judge others to be so, there ARE people who are undeniably positive, and those who are incessantly negative (may Allah guide us all towards positive behavior). This is because the positive people have learned how to overcome the negativity in their own selves, by proactively becoming positive, in order to nip it in the bud. The “negative people” on the other hand, are those who allow negative thoughts and behavior to overshadow them most of the time – leading them towards a chronic, unabated state of depression, fears, anxiety and ungratefulness of Allah’s blessings.

    The traits of “negative people’ mentioned above were intended to (i) enable readers to look into a mirror which would help them identify whether they were, or were not, heading towards negative behavior. Also, (ii) to arm them to identify such behavior in others so that they might react positively. Alhamdulillah, it seems most readers took it really as it was intended i.e. a lesson for themselves.

  27. Avatar

    shaheen

    January 8, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    JazakAllah khairan for writing so well and giving me further incentive to think deeply about this topic. I think Allah has the right to distinguish between His people. After all He is the creator and He knows everyone inside out. Since our objective is to please Allah so we should know what sort of people He likes and what are the people whom He does not like at all. We have to have a clear idea of the characteristics we should develop in our personalilities. The Da’ee also has this noble intention to caution others. But look at the average person. Most of us tend to blame others for our faults. We are not trained yet to analyse even ourselves in a true way so how can we analyse others? The same person who is very positive to some people can be the most negetive for someone whom he doesn’t like. And vise versa. Our levels of goodness are always changing. Sometimes we are so good and full of so many virtues but one small error like reacting angrily in from of people can bring all our goodness to ashes. So what will you call such a person? positive? because he has such glorious records of goodness or negetive? because you happened to see him for the first time at exactly the same point when he was making life hell for others in his burst of temper? Human nature is most complicated. You must have experienced that on the road to guidance every single day you discover things about yourself which you hadn’t recognized before. So the best way to stay on the right track is to first focus on our own plus and minus points and do Tazkiyyah and Tarbiyyat of our own selves. And for others we should be very very careful before forming any opinion. Because we are works in progress and until the day of judgement arrives we cannot say what will become of us. May Allah have mercy on us all and guide us to the way of thinking and living which He likes best, Ameen

  28. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    January 8, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    Yes, sister, you are absolutely right! I agree.

  29. Avatar

    Abu Sabaya

    January 10, 2009 at 2:52 AM

    This is a PDF of an essay titled ‘Reflections on Expecting the Best from Allah’: http://iskandrani.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/expecting-the-best-from-allah/

    The download link is underneath the quote.

    Enjoy.

  30. Avatar

    Algebra

    January 10, 2009 at 3:19 AM

    Aslamu-alaikum:
    @ Abu Sabaya
    “Reflections on Expecting the Best from Allah’:”

    I read it it was nice MashAllah.
    thank you for sharing it with us.
    salam

  31. Avatar

    Saj

    January 15, 2009 at 7:52 AM

    Hi,

    really nice article – thanks for taking the time to shar this. I am also really interested in reading the article entitled “Expecting the best from Allah.” But unable to download for some reason. IF anyone is able to mail to me direct please let me know.

    Thanks.

    x

  32. Avatar

    Em Ahmad

    January 18, 2009 at 5:42 PM

    Mashallah! Nice read. I am glad to see your mention of CBT in the article. My son is studying to be a psychologist and has been getting a lot of negative feedback from some of the doctors at our masjid. He feels that we need more Muslim psychologists to help Muslims and others cope within the bounds of Islam. Indeed the deen is advice (eldeen naseeha). Thanks for the article!

  33. Avatar

    ummabdullah

    January 27, 2009 at 3:44 AM

    What an excellent article. There is actually a book called ‘learned optimism’ that is very beneficial. it’s written by someone who is a pessimist and learned to overcome it. Teaches you how to counteract negative thoughts.

  34. Avatar

    Umm Ismael

    February 5, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    Asslam u alaikum wr wb
    Alhamdolillah, very useful article. A friend wasjust talking to me about how ‘raza bil qadr’ is an essential for every muslim. That would do away with a lot of our ‘Whys’. May ALLAH Grant you more wisdom- ameen.

  35. Avatar

    Um e Abdullah

    November 4, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    well written and helpful, i’m proud of u Sadaf……may Allah save us all from the negativity within us and help us become positive and productive individuals, ameen

  36. Avatar

    Sana

    November 28, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    Super well-written! Thank you! =)

  37. Avatar

    Megan Wyatt

    December 11, 2010 at 11:20 PM

    I just found this article and came at a much needed time with beautiful reminders on how to deal with harsh, rude, and insensitive critics and their criticism. Thank you Sadaf for this article. Jazaki Allahu Khairan.

    The reminder about the Prophets is always a good one. Allahu Akbar.

  38. Avatar

    Um Aneesa

    October 10, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    Now we need an article on how to help those of us who are those negative people!

  39. Avatar

    Azir

    December 22, 2016 at 6:17 PM

    MashAllah, A truly moving article. Just what i needed. JazakAllah khairun.

  40. Avatar

    Amjad

    January 29, 2018 at 1:13 PM

    Masha Allah beautifully written ?

    Helpful to all!

  41. Avatar

    sana mehreen

    June 1, 2019 at 2:04 AM

    Its really mind blowing and the text is really enough to change negative thinking.I hope it will help me…..

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Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure

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How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?

If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.

My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.

On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.

I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.

When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand.  Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?

I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.

That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.

I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:

Host an open house

Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.

Expand your circle

Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.

Delegate

You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.

Squeeze in

Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.

Outsource Eid Fun

If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.

Flock together

It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend.  If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.

Give gifts

The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏ “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.

Try, try, try again…

Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.

While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.

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Were Muslim Groups Duped Into Supporting an LGBTQ Rights Petition at the US Supreme Court?

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Muslim organizations, Muslim groups

Recently several Muslim groups sent an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court to support LGBTQ rights in employment.  These groups argued“sex” as used in the Civil Rights Act should be defined broadly to include more types of discrimination than Congress wrote into the statue.

A little background. Clayton County, Georgia fired Gerald Lynn Bostock. The County alleged Bostock embezzled money, so he was fired. Bostock argues the real reason is that he is gay. Clayton County denied they would fire someone for that reason. Clayton County successfully had the case dismissed saying that even if Bostock is right about everything, the law Bostock filed the lawsuit under does not vindicate his claim. The case is now at the Supreme Court with other similar cases.

The “Muslim” brief argued the word “sex” should mean lots of things, and under the law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act), LGBTQ discrimination is already illegal.  American law has developed to provide some support for this argument, but there have been divisions in the appellate courts. So this is the exact sort of thing the US Supreme Court exists to decide.

The Involvement Of Muslim Groups

In Supreme Court litigation, parties on both sides marshal amicus briefs (written arguments) and coordinate their efforts to improve the effectiveness of their advocacy, there are over 40 such briefs in the Bostock case. Groups represent constituencies with no direct stake in the immediate dispute but care about the precedent the case would set.

The Muslim groups came in purportedly because they know what it’s like to be victims of discrimination (more on that below). The brief answered an objection to the consequences that could come with an expansive definition of the term “sex” to include gay, lesbian, and transgender persons (in lieu of its conventional use as synonymous with gender, i.e., male/female). In particular, the brief responded to the concern that “sex” being defined as any subjective experience may open up more litigation than was intended by making the argument that religion is a personal experience that courts have no trouble sorting out and that, like faith, courts can define “sex” the same way.

While this may be interesting to some, boring to others, it begs the question:  why are Muslim groups involved with this stuff? Muslims are a faith community. If we speak *as Muslims* is it not pertinent to consult with the traditions of the faith tradition known as Islam, like Quran, Hadith and the deep well of scholarly tradition?  Is our mere presence in a pluralistic society enough reason to ignore all this and focus on building allies in our mutual desire to create a world free of discrimination?

Spreading Ignorance

In July of 2017, the main party to the “Muslim” brief, Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), was expelled from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Convention bazaar.  I was on the Executive Council of the organization at the time but had no role in the decision. The reason: MPV was dedicated to promoting ignorance of Islam among Muslims at the event. The booth had literature claiming haram was good and virtuous. Propaganda distributed at the table either implied haram was not haram or alternately celebrated haram.

For any Muslim organization dedicated to Islam, it is not a difficult decision to expel an organization explicitly dedicated to spreading haram. No Muslim organization, composed of Muslims who fear Allah and dedicate their time to Islam can give space to organizations opposed the faith community’s values and advocates against them in their conferences and events.  Allah, in the Quran, tells us:

immorality

Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows, and you do not know.

It would be charitable to the point of fraud to characterize MPV as a Muslim organization. That MPV has dedicated itself to promoting ignorance of the religion within the Muslim community is not in serious dispute.  The organization’s leader has been all over the anti-Sharia movement.

Discrimination against Muslims is bad, except when it’s good 

The brief framed the various organizations’ participation by claiming as Muslims, we know what it is like to be on the receiving end of discrimination. This implies the parties that signed on to the Amicus petition believe discrimination against Muslims is a bad thing. For at least two of the organizations, this is not entirely true.

MPV is an ally of another co-signer of the Amicus petition, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).  Both have records that show an eagerness to discriminate against Muslims in the national security space. They both applied for CVE grants. Both have supported the claim that Muslims are a national security threat they are somehow equipped to deal with. I have written more extensively about MPAC in the past; mainly, it’s work in Countering Violent Extremism and questionable Zakat practices.

MPAC’s CVE  program, called “Safe Spaces,” singled out Muslims as terrorist threats. It purported to address this Muslim threat. In June of 2019, MPAC’s academic partner released an evaluation Safe Spaces and judged it as “not successful” citing the singling out of Muslims, as well as a lack of trust within the Muslim community because of a lack of transparency as reasons why the program was a failure. Despite its legacy of embarrassment and failure, MPAC continues to promote Safe Spaces on its website.

MPV was a vigorous defender of MPAC’s CVE program, Safe Spaces.  MPV’s leader has claimed the problem of “radicalism” is because of CAIR, ISNA, and ICNA’s “brand of Islam.”

Law Enforcement Approved Islam

In 2011, former LAPD head of Counter-Terrorism, Michael P. Downing testified during a congressional hearing on “Islamist Radicalization” Downing testified in favor of MPV, stating:

I would just offer that, on the other side of the coin, we should create opportunities for the pure, good part of this, to be in the religion, such as the NGOs. There is an NGO by the name of Ani Zonneveld who does the Muslims for Progressive Values. This is what they say, “Values are guided by 10 principles of Islam, rooted in Islam, including social equality, separation of religion and state, freedom of speech, women’s rights, gay rights, and critical analysis and interpretation.” She and her organization have been trying to get into the prison system to give this literature as written by Islamic academic scholars. So I think there can be more efforts on this front as well.

Downing was central to the LAPD’s “Muslim Mapping” program, defending the “undertaking as a way to help Muslim communities avoid the influence of those who would radicalize Islamic residents and advocate ‘violent, ideologically-based extremism.” MPAC was a supporter of the mapping program, which was later rejected by the city because it was an explicit ethnic profiling program mainstream Muslim and secular civil rights groups opposed.  MPAC later claimed it did not support the program, though somehow saw fit to give Downing an award. Downing, since retired, currently serves on MPAC’s Advisory Council.

Ani Zonnevold, the President and Founder of MPV, currently sits on the International Board of Directors for the Raif Badawi Foundation alongside Maajid Nawaz and Zuhdi Jasser.

MPV has also been open about both working for CVE and funding from a non-Muslim source, the Human Rights Campaign, and other groups with agendas to reform the religion of Islam. It’s hard not to see it as an astroturf organization.

Muslim Groups Were Taken for a Ride

Unfortunately, Muslim nonprofit organizations are often unsophisticated when it comes to signing documents other groups write. Some are not even capable of piecing together the fact that an astroturf organization opposed to Islam, the religious tradition, was recruiting them to sign something.

There are many Muslims sympathetic to the LGBTQ community while understanding the limits of halal and haram. Not everyone who signed the brief came to this with the same bad faith as an MPV, which is hostile to the religion of Islam itself. Muslims generally don’t organize out of hostility to Islam. This only appears to be happening because of astroturfing in the Muslim community. Unfortunately, it was way too easy to bamboozle well-meaning Muslim groups.

Muslims are a faith community. MPV told the groups Islam did not matter in their argument when the precise reason they were recruited to weigh in on the case was that they are Muslim. Sadly, it was a successful con. Issues like the definition of sex are not divorced from Islamic concerns. We have Islamic inheritance and rules for family relations where definitions of words are relevant. Indeed, our religious freedoms in ample part rest on our ability to define the meaning of words, like Muslim, fahisha, zakat, daughter, and Sharia. Separate, open-ended definitions with the force of law may have implications for religious freedom for Muslims and others because it goes to defining a word across different statutes, bey0nd the civil rights act. There would be fewer concerns if LGBT rights were simply added as a distinct category under the Civil Rights Act while respecting religious freedom under the constitution.

Do Your Homework

Muslim organizations should do an analysis of religious freedom implications for Muslims and people of other faiths before signing on to statements and briefs. A board member of MPV drafted the “Muslim” Brief, and his law firm recruited Muslim nonprofit organizations to sign on. CAIR Oklahoma, which signed up for this brief, made a mistake (hey, it happens). CAIR Oklahoma’s inclusion is notable. This chapter successfully challenged the anti-Sharia “Save our State” law that would have banned Muslims from drafting Islamic Wills. Ironically, CAIR Oklahoma’s unwitting advocacy at the Supreme Court could work against that critical result. For an anti-Sharia group like MPV, this is fine. It is not fine for a group like CAIR.

CAIR Oklahoma is beefing up their process for signing on to Amicus Briefs in the future. No other CAIR chapter signed on to the brief, which was prudent. CAIR chapters are mostly independent organizations seemingly free to do whatever they want. CAIR, as a national organization needs to make sure all its affiliates are sailing in the same direction. They have been unsuccessful with this in the past several years. CAIR should make sure their local chapters know about astroturf outfits and charlatans trying to get them to sign things. They should protect their “America’s largest Islamic Civil Liberties Group” brand.

Muslim Leaders Should Stand Strong 

American Muslims all have friends, business associates and coworkers, and family members who do things that violate Islamic norms all the time. We live in an inclusive society where we respect each other’s differences. Everyone is entitled to dignity and fair treatment. No national Muslim groups are calling for employment discrimination against anyone, nor should they.

However, part of being Muslim is understanding limits that Allah placed on us. That means we cannot promote haram or help anyone do something haram. Muslim groups do not need to support causes that may be detrimental to our interests.  Our spaces do not need to be areas where we have our religion mocked and derided. Other people have the freedom to do this in their own spaces in their own time.

Some Muslim leaders are afraid of being called names unless they recite certain words or invite particular speakers.  You will never please people who hate Islam unless you believe as they do.  Muslims only matter if Islam matters.

If you are a leader of Muslims, you must know the limits Allah has placed on you. Understand the trust people have placed in you. Don’t allow anyone to bully or con you into violating those limits.

Note: Special thanks to Mobeen Vaid.

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A New Eid Tradition: Secret Gift Exchange

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Eid Al Adha, Eid Gift Exchange

Gift exchanges–they’re common traditions for many gift-giving holidays in America. I’ve participated in gift exchanges in religious and secular contexts and I’ve loved being a member and even a host of them in the past! This past Eid al Adha and Eid al Fitr, I organized a secret gift exchange (we called it “Secret Bakra” from the Urdu “bakra” which means goat) with my siblings, cousins, and their respective spouses who live all over the US and it was one of the most memorable and fun things I have ever done for Eid in my life! The best part of a gift exchange like this is that I don’t have to feel the pressure of gifting 13 people gifts every Eid, but I feel as if I have!

Here’s a quick guide and some tips to help you and your family or friends organize an Eid gift exchange!

Gift Exchange Basics

A gift exchange requires: 

  • a group of 3 to 40 people
  • a budget range for the gift
  • deadlines for sending/receiving gifts
  • an organizational system to assign members who they will be giving gifts to

Optional parts of a gift exchange can be:

  •  some sort of exchange party (in-person or virtual)
  • gift recommendations/interests for each person to help nudge the gift-giver in the right direction)
  • an anonymous/secret exchange system with a reveal during the party/after everyone has gotten their gifts

Why a (Secret) Eid Gift Exchange? 

Following the Sunnah and Bringing People Together

The most important motivation anyone can have to organize or participate in a gift exchange is taken from a hadith of the Prophet (S) in which he says, “Mutual gift-giving increases the love between people.” This hadith can be taken as advice for a way to bring people closer together and with the intention of following the teachings of the Prophet (S). 

Celebrating Eid and Creating Meaningful Traditions

Another important motivation is to celebrate Eid, as the Prophet (S) has mentioned is a main annual holiday for Muslims, and to also make Eid special for you, your family, a group of friends coworkers, masjid volunteers, etc. Not only is it important for individuals and families to establish Eid traditions that everyone can look forward to (Eid shouldn’t just be fun for kids!), but it is particularly important in communities in which Muslims are a minority. I’ve always been a firm advocate for making fun, memorable Eids with exciting, wholesome Eid traditions and festivities. 

Manageable Way to Give Gifts within a Large Group of People

A gift exchange is a great way to give gifts in a large group of people without breaking the bank and without exhausting yourself trying to think of gifts for a bunch of people and then buying or making them. My cousins and I have gotten closer more recently due to an upswing in family weddings, and I really felt like giving all of them gifts last Eid.  But realistically, I didn’t have $200 to get all 9 people in this group a decent gift, or the time to make 9 gifts that were meaningful and special for each person, or the energy to come up with different gifts for all 9 individuals. A couple of years ago, my husband and I sent ice cream gift cards and personalized Eid cards to each one of our cousins (allocating $5 per cousin per family). It felt great to extend an “Eid ice cream on us” gesture, but for $45, it didn’t seem like we really got much of a bang for our buck. By doing a Secret Bakra Gift Exchange, we both spent under $30 total for our gifts, but it felt like more of a meaningful gift.  It also felt like each one of my siblings/cousins gave a gift to everyone in the group–and that’s the magic of gift exchanges! Although we didn’t give and receive 9 gifts on Eid, we all came together to celebrate our family ties and Eid in a special way and everyone felt like they scored on Eid. Lastly, if there’s a dedicated group of people that you always do a gift exchange with, such as extended family in my case, theoretically everyone will end up giving everyone else a gift when you consider probabilities if you do a gift exchange every Eid for enough years, right?  

Bridging the Gap: Togetherness Despite Age, Distance, Financial Means, etc.

One thing that was super magical for my cousins and I this past Eid was having the feeling that we celebrated Eid together. We’re always lamenting the fact that we seldom get together and rarely with all of us or talking about how if we were closer to each other then we’d do xyz awesome, fun things together all the time. This gift exchange wasn’t just about giving each other gifts–it was also about making time for a video call in which we all made it despite being strung across three different time zones and having work/school the next day to unwrap our gifts and wish each other a blessed and joyous Eid. It was also about creating a more tight-knit group and welcoming the newcomers to our extended family (we’ve had two weddings in one year and we’re all still getting to know the new spouses and vice versa). We’re all different in many ways–age, gender, religiosity, personality, etc.–and we may interact with each other (and even be fond of each other) at varying levels. Doing an anonymous gift exchange is a great way to force a person’s hand into making a greater effort to connect with another person in a wholesome, beautiful manner. Lastly, we considered our budget range to accommodate our financially-dependent younger cousins in high school, our unemployed bunch, our students, etc. No one felt burdened by the price tag for the gifts and everyone felt like they made a meaningful contribution no matter what their lifestyle or financial means allow. 

eid gift exchange

Tips on Making Your Secret Gift Exchange Easy, Fun, and…Did I Mention Easy?

With the business of worshipping in Ramadan and Dhul Hijjah on top of daily life struggles, who has the time to monkey around with extra nonsense like a gift exchange for Eid? Following these tips will help YOU pull off a great gift exchange with minimal time, effort, stress, and hiccups! (These tips will be particularly useful for people conducting a long-distance gift exchange.) 

  • Use a self-generating exchange system like “Elfster.” Have one person do it (it only takes 5 minutes to set it up) and send out the sign up link. You can even take turns every time you do a gift exchange. This way, nobody has to sit out the game because the website takes care of matching people in the group and can also let an administrator get in behind the scenes in case a problem arises (like someone doesn’t send their match a gift.) For the rest of the participants, signing up takes less than 5 minutes if you’re a first-time user and less than 2 minutes if you already have an account. The site draws names, notifies everyone of who they received, provides your match’s address, etc. It basically takes out all of the headache stuff that would discourage someone from wanting to organize one of these exchanges.  It can also allow for anonymous messaging, which can be handy for contacting your match to inquire about clothing sizes, color preferences, delivery options/issues, etc.
  • Set a budget range that’s friendly for the people of less financial means in mind. Think of the spread of your participating group members and make the exchange accessible to those who have the least means. Gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful and you don’t want to set a $80 budget if someone in the group is struggling to make ends meet every month. My recommendation is to choose a budget range so that each person isn’t busting their brains to try to get a gift as close to $15.00 as possible, for example. Determine whether or not you’d like to include shipping costs inside this budget. If someone is making a gift, then estimate how much you’d buy whatever is made if you got it from the store (this is probably a bit harder than just buying something that has a price tag associated with it.) Give a $3-7 range around a price point everyone seems comfortable with. Our budget for the last exchange we did was $12-17. Most participants bought gifts at the $14-17 range (which I think is better.) Some good budget range recommendations I have are the following: $14-17, $15-18, $18-22, $20-24, $25-29. For a higher budget: $28-33, $38-42, $48-53. 
  • Set a strict deadline for receiving the gifts before Eid and keep in mind your gift exchange party date/time. Make sure everyone knows that they need to have the gift delivered on or by a certain a date. Don’t have a “send by” date, that doesn’t really make any sense, and don’t have a deadline that spreads across a couple of days because it’s too confusing. My personal recommendation for the deadline is to have the deadline at least one or two days before the earliest day anyone in your group might be celebrating Eid (#MoonWars). This way, everyone can take care of their gift before the Eid madness sets in which can make Eid more enjoyable because no one is stressed out about their gift being delivered on time, and it gives a little bit of a buffer if there are any complications with delivery or fulfilling an order/shipment. 
  • Virtual exchange party: set it before Eid prayer. Eid day is just too crazy because people have a lot of things going on. Now take into consideration the fact that people celebrate Eid on different days…exactly. If you set your virtual exchange party for the night before the earliest Eid’s prayer, you’re nearly guaranteed to be able to catch everyone because no one will have an Eid dinner invitation for that night. Additionally, it will feed into the excitement for Eid which will be on the next day or two. 
  • Alternative virtual exchange party. You can have everyone send a video recording of themselves opening their gift on whatever day the gift deadline is or whatever day you want to have your “party.” This way, everyone can participate despite schedule conflicts. If there are a handful of individuals who can’t make the actual party, you can also have them send videos beforehand instead of joining into the party on the video call. This might also be helpful if you’re doing an exchange party in-person if you can have the one or two people who can’t make it video-call in or send video recordings beforehand (if it’s before, then that person would need their gift before the party.)
  • Anonymous gift-sending and guessing who the gift-giver is. Make sure that the person giving the gift does not reveal their identity in any way, whether that’s putting gifts in a dark room before the party starts or making sure that their name is not on the package being sent at all. What we like to do is to have the person guess who they think gave them the gift after they’ve opened it. Our rule is that if the person guessed correctly, then the gift-giver should confirm it was indeed them that gave the gift. This is one of the most fun parts of the exchange party in my opinion.
  • Have a code word in your package to signify that it’s a gift from the Eid exchange.  Let’s face it–online shopping is convenient and becoming increasingly so. It’s more likely than not that you will order something from online during the gift exchange, so in order to prevent confusion, include a code word in the name of the person you’re sending the Eid gift to. We chose to write “Bakra” as the middle name, so it’d look like “Muhammad Bakra Ahmad” on whatever package was intended to be their gift for the Eid gift exchange.

I hope all of these tips were useful! If you end up doing this Eid gift exchange in your family, let us know what the best gifts were this time around! 

Here are the gifts that we had in our Eid al Fitr gift exchange this past June!

  • Juvia’s Masquerade Eyeshadow Palette
  • NASA Worm Logo Shirt + The Great Wave off Kanagawa Tapestry
  • Jade Roller for Face
  • Music Record
  • Nose Frida
  • Campfire Mug
  • DSLR Camera Remote
  • Llama String Art Kit
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** + Knife Sharpening Stone
  • Philadelphia Eagles Sun Hat
  • Golden State Warriors Mug

May Your Eid Be Blessed!

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