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5 things Muslims can learn from Christmas

Dr Muhammad Wajid Akhter

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There will usually be two types of reactions to the title of this article. The first will be along the lines of, “Finally. Someone who agrees that there’s nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas and having a tree, turkey, Christmas cards etc…” The second will be along the lines of “Astaghfirullāh. How can Muslims learn anything from a non-Muslim holiday?”

This article certainly does NOT condone the ever-increasing practice of imitating non-Muslims in the celebration of their holidays. However, I do believe that there are lessons that we can draw from the way that non-Muslims celebrate their holiday. These are lessons that we can apply to our own two historically Islamically legitimate holidays – the two ‘Īds.

So, what are these lessons?

1. Taking time off


In a capitalist society, everyone’s worth is judged by their bank balance. In such a society, taking time off is something you do so that you can recharge your energies just enough to get back into the rat race. However, it is unquestioned that almost everyone relishes getting a break for Christmas – even the most secular people. Meanwhile, many Muslims don’t bother taking time off work for ‘Īd for fear of what that would mean to their career. Many of them tell their kids not to take the day off school because somehow that one day off could mean the difference between becoming a brain surgeon or a drug-addled homeless refugee. We are instilling in ourselves, our families and our colleagues the unsaid thought that ‘Īd is not important. It is not worth any inconvenience that it may cause. Eventually, our kids will come to visit us on Christmas and bring us a Christmas present and we’ll stupidly ask, “how did this happen?”

2. Giving gifts


I remember watching a news report about how many non-Muslims set themselves back financially to buy the best presents they can for their entire family. A lot of thought and preparation goes into these gifts with many of the trendiest and most expensive items being gifted, rather than the bargain basement stuff. And it is not only the parents who give gifts. Even the young children save up their pocket money to buy their parents a gift within their limited means. Therefore it is ironic that it was our very own Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) who said, “Give gifts to one another and you will love one another.” We hardly give gifts during ‘Īd time and instead save them for other “special occasions” like birthdays, anniversaries or graduations. We don’t realize the psychological impact this will have on those receiving it, i.e. associating these other events with happiness from an early age and ‘Īd with a $10 bill thrust into their hand – if they’re lucky. I am not promoting the excesses and commercialization that we see at Christmas, but the spirit of giving gifts and presents to young and old alike is something worth thinking about.

3. Emphasize the story

Who doesn’t know the story of Christmas? Every part of it, from the three wise kings to Santa Claus, is well-documented, played and replayed in hundreds of TV shows, movies, comics and even advertisements. How many Muslims can explain the significance of the ‘Īds, who were the main characters involved and what lessons are we to derive from them? Unfortunately, ‘Īd is marketed in most of the Muslim world in a way that means we hardly ever reflect on the true stories behind them, and instead just spend time with the family stuffing our faces – if we take any time off work that is. Because of the lack of understanding behind the meaning of ‘Īd we think little of adding in lots of other celebrations of our own – after all, if it’s only about having a good time, why not have more of it?

4. Celebrate well

Ever go past a house and see it decked out with lights for Christmas? It may be a terrible waste of money and electricity, but you cannot deny that they are getting into the spirit of the season. There are carolers that go around regaling their neighbors, decorations on public buildings and festive events in every office. In fact, getting into the Christmas spirit is such a ubiquitous thing that anyone who rebels against it is labeled a Scrooge or Grinch. The festive spirit on the two ‘Īds is usually so well hidden that no one outside the Muslim community would be able to tell that a Muslim household is celebrating a special occasion – a real shame and a real missed da‘wah opportunity.

5. Excite the kids

Why am I so focused on getting the kids to enjoy ‘Īd? Well, let’s face it. A large proportion of us are deep into either selfish hedonism, extreme secularism, hypocritical liberalism or some type of sectarianism. The future of the Ummah will be determined by factors such as whether our children see ‘Īd as a holiday worth celebrating, or if they relegate it to the B-list behind the “cool” holidays of Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year etc. While Christmas is (supposed to be) all about the theatre, excitement and happiness of children, ‘Īd is all about eating lots of food in slightly different locations throughout the day. ‘Īd doesn’t stand a chance. We are failing our children by not inspiring them to hold on to their faith and our traditions. Watch how many young Muslims in Manchester (UK) celebrate ‘Īd  by drinking, dancing, waving nationalistic flags and harassing any white women who happen to be unlucky enough to be in the vicinity:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MygzRFb4yzM

I remember vividly seeing an old man crying at the mosque on ‘Īd day. When asked why he was tearful he said that his children don’t visit him or even call him on ‘Īd day as they are busy at work. His grandchildren send him Christmas cards and get upset because he doesn’t buy them presents for Christmas like everyone else. He looked back and wished he had instilled the love of our own holidays in their hearts when they were young rather than going with the flow. Unfortunately, it’s too late for him now. If we don’t change our attitudes, unite as a single community and take our own holidays seriously instead of freeloading on a holiday that isn’t ours – it will soon be too late for us too.

WAJiD Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter - Doctor, Medical Tutor (Social Media, History & Medicine) - Islamic Historian - Founder of, and current board member to Charity Week for Orphans and needy children. www.charityweek.com - Council member, British Islamic Medical Association

47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Safwan

    December 24, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    Alchamdulillah, very well said brother!
    May Allah grant that your intention and faith be understood by all others who read this, ameen

  2. Avatar

    Aser Rehman Mir

    December 24, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    Excellent article! The comparisons and lessons you’ve brilliantly detailed have been lingering in my mind for many years but just couldn’t spell it out as meticulously above.

    The next stage is implementation which needs a lot of PR and support from Muslims businesses, schools and similar connections.

  3. Avatar

    Safwan

    December 24, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    Alchamdulillah, very well said brother!
    May Allah grant that your intention and faith be understood by all others who read this, ameen.

  4. Avatar

    Dan

    December 24, 2012 at 12:37 AM

    Christmas is a holiday based on pagan tradition. The whole focus of gifting during Christmas takes months to build up with the help of greedy merchants that promote their merchandise on every available media. The true meaning of gifting is lost because the social pressure of giving is incredible. The long preparation for celebrating Christmas end in unrestrained consumption. There is no fasting, very little praying except on Christmas eve service… I always thought Christians have more to learn from Muslim tradition preparing for and celebrating for Eid holidays.
    Did I miss something?

    • Avatar

      Aser Rehman Mir

      December 24, 2012 at 12:45 AM

      @Dan, it still doesn’t explain the lack of enthusiasm and problems of our celebration compared to those celebrating Christmas.

      You make valid points linking to Paganism and the issue of consumption. However, we can still learn from this without going to the extreme of innovating, imitating or consumption. We can find true balance. Use the middle path. Adopt in a way that is morally acceptable and ignite the same level of excitement.

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      December 24, 2012 at 3:02 AM

      Absolutely agree with you Dan, however we can learn from every aspect – especially the negative – including how our gift giving should not become overly commercialised or excessive.

      And we can also learn from the relative absence of God from Christmas celebrations – and not let our Eid go the same way.

      • Avatar

        scarfed

        December 24, 2012 at 12:07 PM

        I grew up in India; for me the ‘celebration’ was the “gift of giving”. On the day of Eid I was taught to give money to the poor, besides the Zakah / arrange for a meal and sit down for a meal with orphans etc.
        The act of helping someone with less monetary advantage was the celebration. And that was “exciting” for me.

        • Avatar

          Ummridhwan

          January 1, 2013 at 1:10 PM

          @Scarfed, Asalaamu alaykum; If I’m not mistakened this article was towards parents and the elderly, in order to put back the spirituality and enthusiasm in Eid. Many of our young generation living in the West are not at the mental state of some of us spiritual individuals who see Ramadan and Eid as an opportunity to give to the poor, increase our good deeds and put a smile on everyone’s faces. Our environment in the West is set in a way to have our youth think of only being selfish(“the ME, ME, ME generation) self-centered and go after their desires Satan has beautified for them. In Christmas, the young careless of the many Churches who feed the poor on Christmas Eve which does not highlight the essence of what Christmas means to them. The media highlights the gift giving , the celebration of Christmas and highlights less of the charity work that is carried out, if that was the case, non-Muslims would understand more that Christmas is not about materialism or fulfilling your desires but it is the assumed Biblical revelation of Jesus birth.

      • Avatar

        Dan

        December 24, 2012 at 6:53 PM

        Jazakallah khair brother and forgive me for not mentioning the may excellent points you made in your essay. I also understand your point that there is a lack of enthusiasm the way Muslim celebrate Eid. However, there are so many things wrong with Christmas it is an example of how not to treat you religious holidays. Christmas as it is being practiced goes against the teaching of Jesus, who thought fasting, abandoning material greed, to give from the heart, and also he was strongly against using religion and God as a means to generate money or business (he overthrew the tables the merchants setup at the temple in Jerusalem). Christmas does not celebrate the teachings of Jesus, it still has strong practical resemblance to the ancient pagan practices.

        Was Salam

      • Avatar

        smorgan

        December 25, 2012 at 12:04 AM

        ASA

        To my knowledge, there is no sunnah at all for giving gifts on Eid. If so, and since Eid is definitely a “religious” event, that would make gift-giving on that particular day becoming universal and consistant a bid’a in the deen.

        So, while I agree with the intent of the article – especially regarding not even taking a day off work to celebrate the Eid – we must be even more careful about not falling into bid’a by imitating the ways of non-Muslims.

        • Avatar

          Mahmud

          December 25, 2012 at 7:48 PM

          Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

          No it is not a bidah inshaa Allah. Eid is a celebration. Check out what Islam Q&A has to say.

          http://www.islamqa.info/en/ref/130948/gifts%20on%20eid

          Is it permissible to give my family members some gifts on Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, and to do that every year, or is it an innovation (bid‘ah)?

          Praise be to Allah.

          There is nothing wrong with giving gifts on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to family and relatives, because these are days of joy and happiness on which it is mustahabb to uphold ties, show kindness, and eat and drink plenty. This is not bid‘ah; rather it is something that is permissible and a good custom that is one of the symbols of Eid. Hence it is not allowed to give gifts and express joy and happiness on innovated occasions on which it is not prescribed to celebrate, such as New Year, the Mawlid (Prophet’s birthday) and the fifteenth of Sha‘baan (an-nusf min Sha‘baan), because this makes them like Eids.

          Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: On this Eid people also exchange gifts, i.e., they make food and invite one another to come and eat, and they get together and celebrate. There is nothing wrong with this custom because these are days of Eid. When Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) entered the house of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and found with him two young girls who were singing on the days of Eid, he rebuked them, but the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Let them be.” And he did not say it because they were young girls. Rather he said: “Let them be, for these are the days of Eid.”

          This indicates that Islam, with its tolerant and easy-going attitude, allows people to express joy and happiness on the days of Eid.

          End quote from Majmoo‘ Fataawa Ibn Uthaymeen, 16/276

          And he (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

          It is well known that there are no festivals in Islam except those which are proven in sharee‘ah, namely Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Ahda, and Friday which is the weekly “Eid”. As for the fifteenth of Sha‘baan (an-nusf min Sha‘baan), there is no proof in Islam is that it is an Eid. If it is taken as an occasion on which charity is distributed or gifts are given to neighbours, then this is taking it as an Eid.

          End quote from Fataawa Noor ‘ala ad-Darb

          And he said concerning Mother’s Day: Once this is understood, it is not permissible, on the occasion mentioned in your question, which is called Mother’s Day, to introduce any of the symbols of Eid on this day, such as expressing joy and happiness, giving gifts, and so on.

          End quote from Majmoo‘ Fataawa ash-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 2/301

          And Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Anne

      December 26, 2012 at 6:01 PM

      Yes you definitely have missed and have misunderstood the meaning of Christmas. Christmas is celebrated as the BIRTH OF CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD. Yes,some of the traditions were adopted from pagan rituals because they had a beautiful, spiritual meaning; but Christians usually pray to Christ every day and the faithful Christians go to Mass and church services at least once a week. You are a bigot. So if you don’t like Christmas, don’t participate in its celebration.

      • WAJiD

        WAJiD

        December 26, 2012 at 6:15 PM

        ^ I rest my case

      • Avatar

        harvester

        December 27, 2012 at 11:00 PM

        Anne, what percentage of people who celebrate Christmas do so in honor of the “the son of God”? What percentage of them are celebrating a cultural event? Do all Christians believe that the prophet Jesus was the son of God? I think it is fair to say that many non practicing Christian people observe Christmas as a day of family gathering. I think the author’s observations about certain aspects of how people observe Christmas could have come from anyone regardless of their faith. Do you deny that taking time off work, gift giving, understanding the history of the holiday, being openly enthusiastic about the holiday and making it special for the children are positive things? That is all the author is saying. He did not set out to attack your celebration of Christmas.

  5. WAJiD

    WAJiD

    December 24, 2012 at 3:08 AM

    Salaam all,

    Just thought I would clarify a few points before they are said:

    1. I don’t believe that the values I listed above are Christian values that Muslims should learn from. I believe that underlying them are true Islamic values (gift giving, inspiring our children, celebrating properly etc…) that we seem to have lost.

    2. There are many aspects of Christmas we would not want to emulate. Rampant consumerism, the loneliness felt by the disenfranchised, the whole making up of new traditions (Santa Claus replacing Jesus as the central figure as an example) However, this article focuses on some of the aspects we can see our own Islamic heritage reflected in.

    3. Some of you will find this a generalisation. It is. To those who none of this applies, keep up the good work and please try and get your fellow brothers and sisters to take Eid seriously.

  6. Avatar

    aliyu_adam

    December 24, 2012 at 5:01 AM

    I want to commend the author for such an insightfull writeup,though very important to the Ummah,this is one of many issues you hardly hear or read anyone talk about today.However,i think its better to encourage more worship and visits(families and loved ones) together with teaching our children the ideaology behind Id,giftings and general anticipation instead of encoraging such outrageous festivities such as carolers,lighting and partying becouse these go way out of the fundamental ideaology of islamic Id celebration which is a teaching of sacrifice,worship and love.Allah knows best.

  7. Avatar

    aliyu_adam

    December 24, 2012 at 6:20 AM

    Nice article.I must also commend the author for such an insightfull choice of topic as you hardly hear or read anything regarding such even with such obvious reflection it has on the islamic community.Though i think its better to encourage d ummah 2 dwell more on d fundamental ideaology behind Id (wch is all about worship,sacrifice n love) rather than emulating such outrageous christain practices(carlers,lighting and obsessive celebrations) with absolutely no regard to any spiritual envolvement.Imitating such will definately lead to a conception of Id perpendicular to its islamic aim.Allah knows best.

  8. Avatar

    online Quran study

    December 24, 2012 at 6:31 AM

    Jazakumullahukhairan!
    The information you provided on Christmas is informative but It is not permissible for Muslims to imitate them in any way that is unique to their festivals, whether it be food, clothes, bathing, lighting fires or refraining from usual work or worship.

  9. Avatar

    Umm Ibraheem

    December 24, 2012 at 7:31 AM

    Even though we do to celebrate or encourage any aspect of Christmas in our family, I love the spirit of Christmas and the feeling it brings. If we take it at face value, everyone is more caring, loving and charitable and family ties are revisited. However, if we were to look deeply inside everything it’s not a pleasant picture, alot of commercialism, greed and pressure. Living in the UK, even we get an opportunity to spend more time with family and friends because of the extended holidays.

    • Avatar

      Umm Ibraheem

      December 24, 2012 at 7:33 AM

      Edit to say: we do not celebrate

  10. Avatar

    N

    December 24, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    I’m so glad this issue has been mentioned. I have always wondered if Eid could ever be commercialized and what is it about it that prevents it from being so? The commercialization of Christmas has been complained about by many but the commercialization of it is what could make Muslim kids relate to it since it’s in their faces all the time after Thanksgiving.

    Eid already has the associated meaning of family time but what could be taken as a lesson from Christmas is engaging in other family activities. After being in America all these years I still don’t get what families do after opening their presents but I don’t think it’s going from house to house like most Muslims do on Eid. To tell the truth I’m tired of going to the houses of my parents’ friends especially when there is no one there for me to talk to and I know other kids in the community feel the same. This may be a desi concept though because what my Arab friends do on Eid is spend time with their friends SEPARATE from their families. The good thing about celebrating Eid in a non Muslim country is everything is still open for people to meet at a restaurant, the movies or to ice skate. I believe families especially with young kids should do these type of things instead of dragging them to other people’s houses where they just eat snacks and sit awkwardly.

    Another thing would be to set a family tradition. Like I’d think it’d be nice to hang lights on the house during the month of Ramadan (don’t know if the neighborhood homeowner’s association will approve) or maybe make certain foods together. There are certain Ramadan foods that each family has so why not also bring them before Eid al Adha?

    I definitely agree that if gifts are exchanged they should be wrapped. I can definitely see people that exchange gifts on Eid are much more excited about it. I remember one of the youth groups did a white elephant type of gift exchange one Eid which was really fun.

  11. Avatar

    Mansoor Ansari

    December 24, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Agreed with every point except #2…

    I loved getting Eidy, I could do what I want with my money. And and every dollar counts and never goes to waste. While with presents, I ended with useless gifts most of the time.

    I was talking to my Christain co-workers today about Eidy – giving money as gifts as they said they would prefer that instead of actual gifts.

  12. Avatar

    fatihah

    December 24, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    assalamualaikum,

    alhamdulillah living in my country Malaysia our eid-ul fitr always spent in full fun fair but sadly sometimes it also goes over board.
    let me share with you’ll how we celebrate it every year. or more how my family do it since i m young.
    we definitely wish every family member will come home and share the joy of eid as one family.
    everyone will get at least a set of new cloth.
    half way through ramadhan the women of the family will start making cookies. modern or traditional.
    during ramadhan night the whole village will take turn to feed people who came to the masjid, night after night.
    on the last day of ramadhan we’ll organize iftar in our masjid. the whole community will work together to prepare food for that night. .. some food even cooked on open fire too :)
    eid night do the takbeer.
    decorate the house.. some with twinkling light on and it is very common to light a lamp using gasoline outside the house and along the road. it make a very dramatic effect n memorable for children..
    to prepare food to be serve to guests visiting the house. a lots of traditional food to be selected upon.
    eid morning the whole family will woke up, take ghusul, eat breakfast then go to masjid for prayer.
    done solah everyone will start inviting each other for visit.
    and most of the family and neighbor will visit each other in new cloth and chat while eating from so many selection of food served.
    what we most young adult missed most is sending and receiving eid card then hang it around the house as a decoration. now only receive the FB card or text to wish you happy eid.
    gift mostly given to young children and parents, grandparents, aunts, uncle n so on and so forth.

    it really fun but sometimes it too much. wasting on food, wanting to impress guest with deco, clothing, and food. doing innovating things like going to the graves of relatives and recite quran there..with children running around the grave yards.
    shaking hand with opposite gender is extremely difficult to avoid.
    and over excited young boys imitating the Chinese firing fireworks all night long!

    i hope for more islamic eid for us in the future. ameen!

  13. Avatar

    Amy

    December 24, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Salaams,

    I have to admit I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot -even considered writing a little article myself regarding certain aspects of this for submission.

    A lot of Muslims may not realize what Christmas is like for reverts/converts like myself. Usually we grow up indoctrinated with Christmas as non-Muslims, and it truly does leave deep grooves in the brain. Then, we all take Shahadah and there’s nothing to celebrate, nothing festive.

    Like you said, the Eid Holidays -especially here in the US- are not just celebrated “moderately”….they are virtually ignored. Every time I have attended an Eid prayer, everyone else hustles home and does their individual and private celebrations with their extended families. There is no lingering fellowship or even sense that it is a special day. If a community does some type of “celebration”, often it is not even scheduled for Eid day, costs money, or is something that no one would be interested in doing (think several “bouncy houses” with some spicy food for $5/plate).

    A lot of us converts/reverts don’t have any Muslims in our family to “go home” and celebrate with after Eid prayers. We don’t have any Eid family recipes to hand down or make that day, and we struggle to start traditions to implement with our own children. Like it or not, there is a glaring cultural divide between Muslims in the west who are immigrants and those who are coverts/reverts, and sadly not even the Eid Holidays manage to bridge this adequately.

    So converts like myself are left feeling nostalgic and disappointed during Christmas. All of the programming we’ve been raised with to celebrate goodness and joy during this time of year is left unexpressed and unsatisfied even when the time for our own religious holidays arrive.

    • Avatar

      Hamza21

      December 24, 2012 at 4:32 PM

      So true Amy I’ve been Muslim for 20 years and never celebrated EId. It’s virtually a non holiday in the US. However over the years it’s hard to remember what it was like celebrating Christmas. Usually this time of year I’m grateful I’m not wasting my money on useless things like my non-muslim relatives. For the future unless this cultural divide,more like paternalistic attitude, from immigrants is changed then I don’t see Eid becoming any more “festive” then it is now.

  14. Avatar

    Infidelicious

    December 24, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    Don’t be offended, relax and enjoy. In the Northern hemisphere we need something to get us through winter, be it solstice, christmas, eid, whatever. Enjoy the food and the time off, and let’s be friends rather than believers of this and that.

  15. Avatar

    Um Yusuf

    December 24, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Alhamdulillah having grown up in the West but being from a Pakistani Muslim background we have kind of managed to find a balance in the way we celebrate Eid. We always take the day or days off work at Eid and we even took the day off school when we were kids. Eid is also a special time to connect with family, have traditional Eid breakfasts, lunches or dinners with family and friends and call relatives near and abroad to wish them well on those special days. We make the effort to decorate our homes, have Eid parties for the kids with games and nasheeds and make Eid cakes with candles ( becos the kids love to blow out the candles!) give them gifts or money and gifts to each other. We buy new clothes and shoes to wear on Eid and especially the Eid prayer, put on henna on our hands and we always tell our kids the stories behind these events so we remember the relevance of these celebrations and what they mean. We try and attend the local Eid activities such as fundays and fairs. We send food to our neighbors whether Muslim or non Muslim. We can make small Eid parties in our kids classrooms and talk about Eid to the non muslim and muslim kids alike with permission of the teachers so our kids feel proud of their deen and feel comfortable to share it with their friends (dawah).Most of all we try and instill in ourselves and our kids that it is all ibaadah and not get carried away by being wasteful or not making the effort to attend the Eid prayer or doing the Takbeeraat (to glorify and thank Allah )or performing the Udhiya and paying the Zakat al fitr( and remember the poor have a share)We try to make all our activities halal and acceptable to Allah.
    Its all about priorities and making the effort, planning, and being creative in fun and halal ways. we need to see our situation and needs and plan how to incorporate the points the brother made into our lives, so we feel satisfied by our Eid celebrations. By the way we do not celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or other holidays such as thanksgiving, valentines, mothers day or halloween in our family, but Alhamdulillah we and our families do not feel we are lacking in any way. We just put more effort into our 2 festive days of Eid. May Allah swt accept our efforts and help us all improve, Ameen.

    • Avatar

      Amanda

      January 8, 2013 at 2:45 AM

      Masha’Allah Tabarak’Allah (= Loved this

  16. Avatar

    Dess

    December 24, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    Assalamulaykum wa rahmatullah

    I’ve got to humbly disagree with you brother. You live in the West, but in Muslim countries or those who recognise Muslim festivals like Singapore, Eid is already a major celebration with its own festive traditions. And it is smthg that we are fighting against, because the spirit of Ramadan and Korban/Haj gets sacrificed because of these traditions. My take is that its best to follow Sunnah – any other ways will just confuse us & the next gen.

    • Avatar

      Muhammad Abdul Haqq

      December 25, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      Na`am. You said what I was thinking as I read the article. It simply sounds like we are jealous of the kuffar and because of that we want to imitate their ways..

      • WAJiD

        WAJiD

        December 25, 2012 at 3:55 PM

        Salaam all,

        Ah – the counter arguments that I was waiting for.

        @Dess – JazakAllah khairun for pointing out the extremely relevant point that we should “follow the Quran and Sunnah.”

        @Muhammad Abdul Haqq – JazakAllah khairun for pointing out that it is not a good thing to imitate the ways of the non-Muslims. Again highly relevant.

        I (and I’m sure many others) look forward to you both explaining how the following are against the Quran and Sunnah or is imitating the kuffar:

        – Celebrating Eid instead of just turning it into a normal day at work/ school
        – Giving gifts
        – Explaining the origins and islamic meaning behind the Eids
        – Celebrating it openly and proudly instead of in (virtual) secret
        – Motivating and inspiring our children to stick to the Islamic holidays instead of those outside of Islam

        Looking forward to your answers…

  17. Avatar

    VJaber

    December 27, 2012 at 3:52 AM

    Good points, I definitely agree that children do not feel the Eid holidays. I do not think we should replicate the Christmas extravagance but maybe place eid presents under a cut out of a moon and a star or hang lights around your house, try to get your neighbors involved. Invite them for iftar and let them see how you celebrate the occasions.

  18. Avatar

    Nuraini

    December 27, 2012 at 5:30 AM

    These are excellent points. Even outside the Western world, in the past people made a big deal about Eid in our own local traditions, mainly driven by the efforts of grandparents and parents (heads of households) ensuring people grouped together and preparations are made, decorations hung, and everyone had a role, and children had fun. nowadays i see that more and more of the boomer generation who are now becoming grandparents do not invest this effort, thus resulting in lukewarm celebrations devoid of organisation and hosting. in fact, for some people they seem to feel that it is somehow impious to have so much fun, taking pride in ‘only’ taking a couple days off (in the past it is not uncommon for the whole week at least, if not two, be taken off for adequate preparations) – forgetting that for children, the weightier aspects of ramadhan and the sacrifice are not yet comprehensible, and instead it is the love for the celebrations should be prioritised until they understand.

  19. Avatar

    Marcus

    December 28, 2012 at 4:49 AM

    I was looking for a good Islamic blogs and I found your blog its such a great peace of information.

  20. Avatar

    Ashraf

    December 28, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    Gift giving in Islam is not related to a particular occasion. The prophet ( may Allah peace and blessing be upon him) encouraged to give gifts all the times and said it enhance love to each other. On the other hand there is charity. Apart from mandatory ZAKAH, there is sadqah which is encouraged by so many ways, like the bad omens or problems in the life can be ward off by sadaqah. The prophet (may Allah peace and blessing be upon him) himself set the example of giving charities and it is narrated that especially in Ramadan the prophet (may Allah peace and blessing be upon him) used to give charity like breeze. In short in Islam there is not a special occasion to give gift or help others. family reunion is the problem of modern life in Muslim families they are always close to each other and Qur,an and Hadith forcefully advise Muslims to keep close ties with your kith and kin. To cut a RAHM relationship with kith and kin is a sin. There are so many good examples of the prophet(may Allah peace and blessing be upon him) and his exalted companions in this respect.
    We Muslim should learn good thing from any where we can find, but example of X Mass is not fit for this purpose.
    May Allah (subhana hoo wa taa, la ) bless you all including your family and friends.

  21. Avatar

    ArabianSpace

    December 28, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Very interesting article to say the least. I can see a lot of positive comments that this article draw. @Dan has made a good point about the true celebrations. My hope if there is any learning curve from this, it should not alter our own holidays, because we should not deviate from the sunnah practice!.

  22. Avatar

    Lauren

    December 28, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Assalamu alaykom wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu, I honestly didn’t plan on reading this until someone posted about the article on my facebook page. As a convert, I honestly understand the importance of making the two Eids big mashallah. Most of the muslims I speak to always say the same things about the eids- they are boring and nothing to do. And they go to school instead of celebrating. I never go to work or school on the eids because these are our two celebrations. I think parents and communities should talk about the two eids and their significance and make the eids big and memorable for their kids because our kids will be leading our traditions once we die. We want them to be able to talk about the deen, practice it and tell their kids about it. Instead of being like the kuffar( the non muslims) we should be leading the way. Its sad when muslims have to look at the nonmuslims when we are the best amongst all nations.

  23. Avatar

    myDarkPassenger

    December 28, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Thanks for the article. I find this article missing a necessary global ingredient. Eid or any other islamic event is a global event and therefore covering how other muslims practice Eid in other countries would have made this more interesting for American muslim readers here. American muslims can learn lot more from, or adopt some practices of muslims living in other countries around the world without having to look at how “Christmas” is enjoyed. We should after all, show how to perfect our union by learning from each muslim-other. All except “Explaining the origins and islamic meaning behind the Eids” during Eid is not a common practice. This seems a novel activity but I dont’ find it important for that day. In fact, it’s probably not a good practice to isolate learning about Eid on any specific day.

    There is always something unique about muslim holidays enjoyed in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, India (Hyderabad, Uttar Pradash) etc. I am sure we can learn lot more from a Malaysian Eid experience than Christmass any day.

    —To “Fatiha”,
    Thanks for sharing how it’s done in Malaysia. I find the sense of community, and holiday you enjoy in Malaysia during Eid is quite powerful and something American muslims can learn to have one day in their circles.

  24. WAJiD

    WAJiD

    December 28, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    salaam,

    Unfortunately it seems a few people are mixing up the intent of the article as I explained in the first paragraphs (maybe they are just skipping ahead to the points.)

    There’s a clear difference between saying that Muslims need to copy aspect of Christmas and saying that the way that non-Muslims take Christmas so seriously – we should do the same for our own holidays.

    @myDarkPassenger – (interesting moniker btw) – agree that it would be nice to see the Eid traditions that other Muslim countries have, but I guess the point of my article is that there’s something in our celebration of Eid that is lacking (and this is shown up very clearly when compared to Christmas celebrations) … unless we can accept that there’s a problem, no one will be interested in suggested solutions.

  25. Avatar

    Saquib Currim

    December 29, 2012 at 7:42 AM

    I totally agree and apart from the points mentioned above, atleast their celebrations happen on the same day, year after year and in every part of the world unlike us who don’t even know who to wish Eid mubarak to as no one celebrates Eid on the same day. Where is the unity?

  26. Avatar

    Ummridhwan

    January 1, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Asalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu! Allahu Akbar!!! Amazingly put together brother, Muhammad Wajid Akhter. I would like to first say that I would probably be considered the type of Muslim that would say, “Astaghfirullāh. How can Muslims learn anything from a non-Muslim holiday?”” Only, because I am seen by others as a niqabi that takes her religion seriously. However, I came to the U.S at the age of 2. I was taught at an early age to be of a person of open mindness. To look at things in a different prospective and take the good from where ever it may be. However, the last revealed ayah in the Qur’an Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5: 3 where Allah says, (the meaning of which is) “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islâm as your religion. This is Allah telling us that our religion is perfect! However, when advise was given to rasulullah(SAW), from non-Muslims, Rasulullah would take it even though Allah was on his side, the creator of the heavens and the earth. So, it’s okay if we take the good and leave anything that is contradictory to Islam. Nevertheless, the question that I think we should ask, is not whether it’s correct or incorrect to look at the aspects we can learn from within the festivals of the non-Muslims but the qustion that should be asked is I thinkis, WHO IS ON THE STRAIGHT PATH? The non-Muslims who take seriously, ciitzenship rights, humanitarion work(missionaries), the Justice System, correct morals etc. In the city of SanDiego, where I’m from. There was a little Muslim girl who said to her Muslim father, “dad can we have a christmas tree?” And her father said, “no daughter that’s the celebration of the non-Muslims” Then the daughter said to her father, “well, can we have Santa Claus,” and the father said, “that’s also the celebration of the non-Muslims. And the 5 year old daughter said, “well then, can I become a non-Muslim.” I suggest all of the commentators that somewhat find some of the things that this author mentioned a little disagrreeable to please listen to Nouman Ali kHan’s video lecture on ‘the types of Muslim youth(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU1XFry6ixg).’ The mind of our Western Muslim youths is at the stage, in which they assume or believe, that the way of the non-Muslims must be the correct path because they practise generosity, respect, love, fairness etc. more than we find Muslims practising those same values in the West. Again, I’m speaking from expereince. There are many Muslims who do practise the same values, but we are enourmously out weighed by the non-Muslims. Islam is perfect and anything else is oppression. Shaykh Yassir Fazagi said it beautifullly, “A man said I sell vinegar with a candy face, and you sell candy with a vinegary face.” Therefore, even though the non-Muslims are astry, yet they tend to influence Muslims with their because they practise and convey their message with a sweet and respectful way. Islam did not spread with the sword, it spread through the traders who bought and sold among non-Muslims in a generous, trustworthy,and fair way and not through a grumpy face which we tend to have towards our young generation. Wallahu A3lam(And Allah knows best). Just a reminder first to myself and second to my dear brothers and sisters. May we all meet in jannah! Ameen ya Allah.

  27. Avatar

    Ummridhwan

    January 1, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Asalaamu alaykum. If the non-Muslims are increasing their numbers and are drawing away our numbers of the young believing Muslims because of their strong influence in the way they celebrate their holidays, shouldn’t we as well put more focus on really celebrating extensively without crossing the boundaries Allah set for us and at the same time teach the spiritual aspect of these great holidays of Eid in a way that will win back our numbers?

    • Avatar

      Amanda

      January 8, 2013 at 2:57 AM

      wa alaikum salaam.

      this isn’t a game to see who has more numbers, or who can win more numbers. Allah gives guidance to whom He wills, and lets astray those whom He wills.

      the concern is more on whether we are ‘living up’ the expectations of Eid, our Islamic celebration. do we, young and old, know why we are celebrating Eid? do we look forward to Eid? when Eid comes, are we celebrating it proudly and in the best way? etc.

  28. Avatar

    Said Make

    January 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    I was wondering why you allowed showing non-Muslim women without hijab in this article.

    *Remainder of Comment noted by MM Team*

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      January 15, 2013 at 1:28 AM

      Dear Said Make
      JazakAllahu Khairin for pointing this out. We endaevor to limit the photos used with our articles but sometimes depending on the article we have to use pictures that do not have women in hijab. We could not get an image of non-muslim family celebrating christmas that fit the necessary hijab criteria.
      However, we have noted your comment and hope we can avoid usage in future.

      Best Regards
      -Aly

  29. Pingback: WAJiD (wajid) | Pearltrees

  30. Avatar

    salmirah

    May 15, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Okay the title actually ticked me off, but reading your article further, I could understand how well-thought your ideas are. How much we Muslims are putting Islam in our kids, is indeed a questionable matter. Nowadays our kids are more interested in Christmas, Easter, Halloween and all the Non-Islamic festivals, and the whole liability lies on our shoulder.
    Your article can be an eye-opener for this kind of Muslims, in sha Allah.
    I definitely need to share this, JazakaAllahu khair!

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#Society

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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#Society

Broken Light: The Opacity of Muslim Led Institutions

Rehan Mirza, Guest Contributor

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muslim led institutions

Habib Abd al-Qadir al-Saqqaf (may Allah have mercy on him and benefit us by him) explains how we are affected by the spiritual state of those around us.

Every person has rays which emanate from their soul. You receive these rays when you come close to them or sit in their presence. Each person’s rays differ in strength according to the state of their soul. This explains how you become affected by sitting in the presence of great people. They are people who follow the way of the Prophets in their religious and worldly affairs. When they speak, they counsel people. Their actions guide people. When they are silent they are like signposts which guide people along the path, or like lighthouses whose rays guide ships. Many of them speak very little, but when you see them or visit them you are affected by them. You leave their gatherings having been enveloped in their tranquillity. Their silence has more effect than the eloquent speech of others. This is because the rays of their souls enter you.

The Organizational Light

As a Muslim organizational psychologist, I know that organizations and institutions are a collective of these souls too. Like a glass container, they are filled colored by whatever is within them. So often Muslim organizations have presumed clarity in their organizational light and looked on with wonder as children, families, and the community wandered. The lighthouse keepers standing in front of the beacon wondering, “Where have the ships gone?”have

Our Muslim led institutions will reflect our state, actions, and decisions. I do believe that most of our institutional origins are rooted in goodness, but those moments remain small and fade. Our challenge as a community is to have this light of origin be fixed so that it can pulsate and extend itself beyond itself.

Reference is not being made regarding any specific type of institution and this is not a pointed critique, but rather a theory on perhaps why the effect our variety of institutional work wanes and dissipates. Any type of organization or institution — whether for profit or nonprofit, whether capital focused or socially conscious — that is occupied by the heart of a Muslim(s), must reflect light.

Our organizational light is known by an ego-less assessment of intentions, actions, and results. We must move our ‘self’ or ‘selves’ out of the way and then measure our lumens. If the light increases when we move out of the way, then it is possible that we — our ego, personality, objectives, intentions, degree of sacrifice, level of commitment, and possibly even our sincerity — may be the obstructions to our organizational lights.

The Personal Imperative

What will become of our institutions and their role for posterity if we neglect to evaluate where we stand in relation to the noble courses they mean to take? We may currently be seeing the beginning what this may look and feel like.

When was the last time you walked into a Muslim led institution and felt a living space that drew you in because of the custodians, leadership, individuals, and community that made up its parts? It was probably the last time you and I looked deeply inward at our lives — our intellect, our relationships, our purpose, our spiritual state, our work, our decisions, and our intentions. If we cleanse our hearts so infrequently the dust which settles can become thick making them opaque. And perhaps this individual and collective state is what limits the reach and impact of our communal work thus, resulting in the opacity of Muslim led institutions. Note: Lighthouse keepers clean the lens of the beacon every day.

We must consistently assess the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual loci of our individual and organizational states. They are not fixed givens. Rather, they are capricious states that necessitate vigilance and wara’. Being aware of this will help in our organizational design and work.

The Collective Affect

When we are prepared to evaluate the efficacy of Muslim led institutions with the inclusion of some form of spiritual assessment, we will give ourselves a better opportunity to determine where, how, and why we may be missing the mark. The inefficiencies and inattentiveness we have on an individual level can permeate our relationships, our work, and our organizations. As organizational leaders, we must critically assess the amount of light our work emanates to illuminate the lives of the people we serve.

These inward evaluations should be in the form of active and ongoing discussions we have internally with our teams and colleagues, and ourselves. If done with prudence and sincerity it will not only strengthen our organizations but our teams and us God-willing. This collective effort can lead to a collective effect for those we serve that inspires and guides. We — and our institutions — can then return to the Prophetic example of being beacons of light that help ourselves and others arrive to a place of sanctuary.

And Allah always knows best.

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#Life

Mindful or Mind-full? Going From AutoPilot to Aware

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Mindful

Modeling Mindfulness

Mindfull

“Remember that God knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him.”

[Sūrat al-Baqarah 2:235]

Mindful or Mind-full?

Ever felt frustrated when you were trying to talk to your spouse, your children, your students, or your youth group and they would just not pay attention? This is a prime example of being on autopilot and getting carried away without actually being aware of what is most important in the present moment.

A recent Harvard study shows that our minds are not present in the moment and wander about 47% of the time1. In a world of technology and continuous sensory overload, the lines between work and home, friends and family, necessity vs. purpose, world-centric vs. Allah-centric have become blurred. We are either living in the past or ruminating about the future, and in the process, we are forgetting to live, enjoy, cherish, and make the most of our present moments.

For parents, teachers, youth leaders, and anyone in the beautiful role of guiding, teaching, coaching, or mentoring others, we can make a huge difference by modeling Mindfulness ourselves. But where do we start? The answer is to go from autopilot to becoming aware.

Autopilot to Aware

Being on autopilot is when you are distracted in the present moment, where your mind is wandering into the past or the future, and you are less aware of yourself, surroundings, or others. Autopilot can actually be pretty helpful for your regular habits. Waking up, brushing your teeth, getting ready for your day, going to school or work – many of the things we do habitually every day can be done more seamlessly without having to think, and that is a good thing. But there are times when you have to learn to turn off your autopilot to become aware. But how?

Here is a Mindfulness tool that can be done in just a minute or two for you to become more aware.

Step 1: Breath as a Tool. Say Bismillah. Focus on your breath. See where you experience the breath – the breathing in and breathing out of your body. Is your breath stemming from your nostrils, your chest, or your stomach? Just bring your attention to your breath and relax and stay with it there for a few moments.

Step 2: Body as a Tool. Relax your body. We carry so many emotions in our bodies2. Our stress from the past or anticipation for the future sometimes finds its way into our necks, other times in our chest muscles or our backs. Pay attention to what emotions and sensations do you feel, and try to relax all parts of your body.

Step 3: Intention as a Tool. As you have centered your thoughts to the present moment through your breath and your body, ask yourself: “What is most important now? In this present moment?”

Just simply being aware makes us more mindful parents, teachers, youth and professionals – being aware makes us more Mindful of Allah SWT. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your mind and body and bring your attention to the present moment.

Mindful

Real Life in the Present Moment

You are an on-the-go parent: It has been a long day and you have to pick up the kids from school, but work is still pending. You’re picking up the kids from school, feeding them, and then shuffling everyone to their afterschool activities, be it Qur’an, softball, soccer, swimming, or the million other things that kids seem to have these days. You squeeze pending work in between drop-offs and pick-ups, and you function by living from one task to the next.

The Autopilot Impact: You’re getting a lot done, but are so engrossed in quickly moving your children along from one thing to another that you are unable to really cherish your time together.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: You can try to go from autopilot to awareness by focusing on your breath, paying attention to your emotions, and relaxing your body. As you do so, ask yourself: “What is most important now?” Make the intention to slow down, listen to the children more mindfully, and cherish and enjoy your time together.

You are a busy teacher: Last night you had to take all the grading home and spent two hours poring over students’ work. This morning, you woke up early to pick up some classroom supplies after dropping off your own kids to school. You’ve already had two cups of coffee and are trying to think through everything you have to do today. You like the idea of Mindfulness, living life in the present moment, and enjoying every day to its fullest, but your mind is not free to even enjoy the beautiful morning sunrise as you drive to school.

The Autopilot Impact: You want to listen and pay attention to every child’s needs, and enjoy the rewards of their growth, but you can’t. What’s more, you judge yourself for just trying to get through your activities for the day. You wish you could connect with your students better.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Whenever you are stressed with an unpleasant parent or student interaction, think about breathing, relaxing your body, and asking what you need to focus on now. Try to do one thing at a time, and relax into what you’re doing.

You are an overstretched youth director: You are a role model. You have this major weekend event you are planning with the youth. Your budget is still pending from the board, you have to call all these people, have to get the graphics and remind everyone about the event, you have to visit all these masjids and MSAs to announce and remind people about the weekend.

This weekend’s theme is Living a Life of Purpose and you are super passionate about it. However, the whole week you have had a hard time remembering to even pray one Salah with focus. Instead, your mind has been preoccupied with all the endless planning for this weekend. You love what you do but you wonder how to also be mindful in your everyday worship while you are always prepping and planning engaging activities for the youth.

The Autopilot Impact: You enjoy shaping the youth but you are losing steam. You are always planning the next program and unable to focus on your own personal and spiritual development. It is difficult for you to pray even one salah without thinking about all the events and activities planned for that week.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Get serious about taking some time for yourself. Know that becoming more mindful about your own prayers and self-development will also make you a better role model. Take a minute or two before every Salah to practice the simple, 3-Step Mindfulness Tool. You say Bismillah and breathe, focus your mind, and then relax your body. Empty your mind from everything else – what has past and what’s to come – and ask “What’s most important now?” to develop better focus in your Salah.

In Conclusion: Practice Simple but Solid Steps towards becoming more Mindful Muslims

Mindfulness is to open a window to let the Divine light in.

[Imam Al Ghazali]

Mindfulness gives us the ability to be aware. We can use Mindfulness tools to remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), refocus, renew our intentions, and engage with the present moment in a more effective and enjoyable way. Mindfulness also invites awareness of our potential negligence in being our best selves with both Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His creation. To put it simply, being more aware of our selves can help us be better versions of our selves.

Mindfulness is both an art and a science, with brain and behavioral science research validating the importance of Mindfulness in improving our health, managing our stress, navigating our emotions, and positively impacting our lives3. In today’s modern and distracted world, let us treasure every tool that helps us center our attention on what matters the most.

  1. Bradt, Steve (2010). Wandering mind not a happy mind. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/wandering-mind-not-a-happy-mind/
  2. Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, Jari K. Hietanen (2013). Bodily maps of emotions. National Academy of Sciences. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/26/1321664111
  3. “What are the benefits of mindfulness,” American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx

To learn more about how to become mindful take the Define Course on Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence.

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