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Dawah and Interfaith

Dawah to Your Neighbors: Eid Sweets!

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Gateway to all Ramadan related posts on MM

Recently, a friend of mine and his family were eating at La Madeline. Another customer in the restaurant saw that and become very upset. You see, my friend and his family looked unmistakably Muslim. So, in order to right this “crime against humanity”, the customer vehemently voiced his disapproval of these Muslims having the right to eat in the restaurant. He openly expressed his disgust for these “terrorists” to his fellow customers. Sadly, none of the people in the restaurant stood up in defense of the right of my friend and his family to enjoy their meal. Instead, they continued eating in complacency. But shockingly, this same man complained to the staff about these Muslims being allowed in, and none of the staff denounced his attitude or criticized his prejudice. Instead, they too were complacent, perhaps even tacitly approving his remarks.

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Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. I too have been a target of such hatred on more than one occasion. A couple of times, this hatred directed at me very nearly became physical. If you are familiar with the statistics, perhaps you don’t find this shocking. Over 50% of Americans believe that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence and 46% of people have a problem with Muslims. Maybe you’re not shocked, but as a Muslim, you should certainly be disturbed by the ramifications.

Such an overwhelmingly negative view of Muslims in America and other countries cannot be healthy for our communities’ viability in the long run. Just as the staff of La Madeline was complacent with the notion that Muslims should not be allowed to eat at its establishment, popular opinion could just as easily be complacent with the notion that Muslims should not be allowed to live freely and securely in these lands.

We as Muslims can react in several ways:

  1. Soil ourselves and run away crying to find asylum in the nearest Muslim country, where we often have far less rights to practice Islam freely.
  2. Submit ourselves to the notion that we’re second hand citizens, bare our backs, and take our master’s whipping.
  3. Stand up for our rights, voice our disapproval against such prejudice, and attempt to change public opinion.

In my opinion, Option 3 sounds pretty good. I don’t know about other countries, but the American government guarantees us the right to practice our religion freely. However, if this right is ever threatened, it is up to us to voice our concern or risk living in a society that overlooks these rights when it comes to Muslims. The good news is that there are several segments of society, such as African Americans, that have fought through similar prejudices and have established institutions that are more than willing to help us in our cause. They understand the vital importance of safeguarding the rights of minorities in this country as do a number of Muslim-run organizations working to maintain our civil rights, may Allah aid them in their task. They truly deserve our support.

But what excites me the most is what you and I can do to change the public perception of Muslims at a grassroots level. We all know non-Muslims at a personal level be it at work, school, or in our neighborhood. If they know us to be peaceful, friendly people, there’s no amount of propaganda Fox News can spout to change what they know is the truth. To facilitate this, a number of Muslim organizations have teamed up to help you reach out to the non-Muslims you know: EidSweets.com

What happens next? Check it out at www.EidSweets.com!

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    September 2, 2009 at 1:37 AM

    Alhamdolillah, I think there are many good reasons to participate in EidSweets, for example, being good neighbors — to Muslim and non-Muslim alike, encouraging interest in Ramadan and Eid by bringing it to the attention of non-Muslims in a tasty way, and more.

    Yet, I would suggest that the example you offer in the article actually seems to make it the fault of the Muslim family that they were subjected to such treatment. If they (and all other Muslims) had been making enough effort to ingratiate themselves, perhaps this would not happen. That might build a false expectation among those who give: that the recipients hearts would be softened.

    The Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam was so well-known to and so trusted by the Quraysh that they continued after his prophethood began to entrust him with their amanahs while he lived in Makkah, even while publicly calling him a magician and worse. What Muhammad sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam strived for was good, his reward was from Allah, and that is the best of rewards, the one on which we should always be focused.

    Have that reward in mind when giving these sweets, and do be the best of neighbors regardless of your neighbor’s religion or his treatment of you.

    WAllaho’Alim.

  2. Amad

    September 2, 2009 at 6:32 AM

    mashallah
    great idea

  3. DhkrofAllah

    September 2, 2009 at 9:06 AM

    My husband and I gave small gifts to our neighbors last Eid, and it was veryyyy much appreciated by them, alhumdulilah. Eid Sweets does the work for us and all we have to do is order it!! I think we should all support this project since no one is making any profit off of it, masha’Allah!

  4. Amatullah

    September 2, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    Beautiful mashaAllah :)

  5. MR

    September 2, 2009 at 10:42 AM

    If i was at the restaurant, I’d pull out my handy flip camera hd and record the person and then put it on YouTube (and of course blog it). :-D

  6. Shafique

    September 2, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    My husband and I gave small gifts to our neighbors last Eid, and it was veryyyy much appreciated by them, alhumdulilah. Eid Sweets does the work for us and all we have to do is order it!! I think we should all support this project since no one is making any profit off of it, masha’Allah!

    SO what exactly did you guys give as gifts to your neighbors last Eid?… Sometimes I find it difficult with food b/c they just might throw it away … and any reading material too might just be thrown away… what is a safe way about doing this…. JazzaKAllah-Khairun

  7. Bint Khalid

    September 2, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    Great idea masha Allah!

    I agree with you Shafique…but really, food is one of the things people LOVE to get! I tried it last Ramadan with my neighbors in my apartment building. I didn’t have time to bake/cook so I just went out and bought small cakes and pies and everyone of them appreciated it. I know that can be costly too but it’s really hard to think of anything else. And another reason I bought cakes was so they wouldn’t suspect me putting anything into the homemade stuff I would’ve given them! :P

  8. mcpagal

    September 2, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    Salaam, good idea mA, may Allah reward whoever thought of it! The website says to leave it on your neighbour’s door though… why not go over and have a wee chat?

    • UmA

      September 2, 2009 at 11:30 PM

      When my daughter heard of the Eid sweets idea, she ran with it and has now made like 40 little chiffon/cellophane baggies of wrapped candy with a note card giving a little info on Ramadan, it’ll be equally interesting to see the reaction or lack thereof: let’s see what happens in sha Allah. May Allah reward this effort. Only thing is, many of our neighbours are Chinese or non English speakers, next year we’ll have to have a multilingual notecard, in sha Allah.

      • HalfDate

        September 3, 2009 at 7:38 PM

        assalam alaikum,

        Contact us, HalfDaters (our members) speak different languages.

        We can help your daughter’s project, inshaAllah

        • UmA

          September 3, 2009 at 11:23 PM

          For sure in sha Allah, maybe for Eid ul Ad-ha. Contact via the halfdate.com website?

  9. midatlantic

    September 3, 2009 at 12:32 AM

    “We as Muslims can react in several ways:

    Soil ourselves and run away crying to find asylum in the nearest Muslim country, where we often have far less rights to practice Islam freely.”

    If non-Muslims can get candy this eid, surely the Muslim who goes to a Muslim country seeking Allah’s pleasure has a right to sweeter words than this.

    • EidSweets.com

      September 3, 2009 at 10:21 PM

      You’re totally right. My apologies to any who took offense.

      Jazaakum Allahu khairan for correcting me.

  10. UmmeAmmaarah

    September 3, 2009 at 4:29 AM

    Lovely idea…. ofcourse, I should’ve been doing this all along as part of ‘our neighbours’ rights upon us’, but better late than never :)

    …oh, and I totally agree with giving them something commercially packaged and something they’re more-or-less guaranteed to enjoy, rather than traditional sweets from a different culture (atleast to start with).

    The part that gets uncomfortable : your now-feeling-less-uncomfortable-with-you neighbors reciprocate and send you something, or invite you over, and you have to start the explaining about how you don’t eat certain stuff or launch a not-so-subtle investigation about the contents of the offering. Do lets share some ideas about how to go about it without putting them off…

  11. Bint Khalid

    September 3, 2009 at 6:51 AM

    UmmeAmmaarah:

    Last year, one of my neighbors wanted to bake me something and she straight up asked me if I’d like a home-baked rum cake….and I just politely told her we can’t have anything with alchohol or pork and she was happy that I told her. Afterwards, she kept sending me brownies, cakes and other baked goods and would always let me know that there was nothing haram in it.

    On another occasion, one of my other neighbors sent me something which I was just really weirded out by because I had this strong feeling she had used wine or rum to make it. Sooooooooo, this was probably wrong but I went and gave it as a gift to my other neighbor (knowing those two didn’t know each other!!) because I didn’t want to say no thanks and I didn’t want to ask her and have to explain everything (she was a sweet little old lady!) and I definitely didn’t want to throw it out! Ghetto as it might be, I did it for the sake of Allah :)

    • UmA

      September 3, 2009 at 11:25 PM

      If anyone can confirm, you’re not to give anything to a non Muslim that’s haram for a Muslim , is that correct?

      • Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

        September 4, 2009 at 11:12 AM

        Yes, that is correct.

        To reiterate, anything that is Haraam is Haraam to give nonMuslims as well.

        Wallahu A’lam

        • Bint Khalid

          September 4, 2009 at 3:16 PM

          So if I bought something that had lard or gelatin in it, I just have to throw it away in the trash and not give to those who already eat that stuff (the non Muslims)? Subhan Allah.

          Jazakum Allahu Khairan.

  12. Solomon2

    September 3, 2009 at 2:05 PM

    4. Do nothing in the face of such attacks, and thus demonstrate by example the falsehoods of the accuser.

    Which is what the family did. Doubtless the person yelling made a ridiculous impression. Finding no support, it may be a long time before he tries such a thing again.

    • EidSweets.com

      September 3, 2009 at 10:33 PM

      Actually, the person yelling was being received neutrally at best by the patrons and staff at the restaurant. Some even seem to have had an approving response. It was only until the family complained to the manager, who then voiced his disagreement with the man, that he felt a lack of support and fled the scene. Similarly, it was only until African Americans took (and continue to take) active measures to ensure their rights in America that they were granted the freedoms they enjoy today. Muslims too must do the same, much like how Jafar ibn Abi Talib (radi Allahu ‘anhu) took a stand in the court of Najashi. Our hope is that EidSweets.com may help in this regard, in sha Allah. And Allah knows best.

  13. Abu Yunus

    September 4, 2009 at 12:00 AM

    “1.Soil ourselves and run away crying to find asylum in the nearest Muslim country, where we often have far less rights to practice Islam freely.”

    This is a gross generalization. What rights are you talking about that we aren’t able to practice Islam freely in Muslims countries. In fact, in most Muslim countries, you can practice Islam far better than any dar ul kufr irrespective of how any of these countries glamorize their call to “freedom of religion” which is nothing but paying lipservice.

    Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) wasn’t joking when he said that one’s Islam will always remain deficient so long as one remains in the lands of the kuffar.

  14. Dawud Israel

    September 4, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    Ooohhhhhh man.

    I got a Jonesing for some EID SWEETS!!! :D

  15. Nadia

    September 4, 2009 at 11:47 PM

    Very good idea mashallah. Although I think I may be more inclined to take some baklava over and have a chat instead, but the concept itself is good mashallah. I know of some Muslims who do this but it’s great that it’s being advocated here. It really can make a difference as to how people see Muslims in our neighborhoods.
    I like the idea of a card though because a conversation can easily be forgotten, so I may give the sweets with a handmade card too. Jazakumullah khayr!
    Just a suggestion: I think a little more text should be added to the card on the website, it seems a little too formal. Maybe explaining the purpose of Ramadan and what Muslims gain from it and at the end signing off with something like ‘Salaam (may peace be with you!)” would be great. Just a little something extra to make it seem more festive.

  16. good neighbour

    September 9, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    Assalamu Alaykum,

    This is one of the best and quiet effective way to do dawah. its the sunnah of our beloved prophet (peace be upon him) to share meals and gifts with others, especially with your neighbours. Alhumdulillah i have been doing a newsletter dawah that carries facts and clears misconceptions on Islam and i deliver them into the mailboxes in my neighbourhood, one of the neighbour actually said that how in church they are told not to touch Qur’an being from satan(astaghfirullah). He really appreciated the newsletter and said he looked forward to my next one!

    i share whatever i cook special, with a different neighbor each time and Alhumdulillah Allah Most High has put love in their hearts for us, the only muslim neighbour on the block. Infact the ladies (all non muslims) did a baby shower for me and it shows how Allah softens hearts and binds them. we were new neighbours and i was a newcomer to the country too!

    we must TRY & make an effort to spread the message of islam in whatever way Allah makes us capable of. I am a graphic designer and hence i thought of designing a newsletter with islamic info. The reason i am sharing my story here is i know how easy it is to do the newsletter dawah and wallahi Allah does everything easy for you. just start it and see how it works by His will!

    the link to my newsletter is here: http://myneighbours.wordpress.com/

    open to suggestions and corrections!

    ma’assalam
    sadia

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