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5 things Muslims can learn from Christmas

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?

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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

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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.

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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

48 Comments

48 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*

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      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!

  31. Avatar

    Umm Abdullah

    December 25, 2019 at 4:54 PM

    I appreciate the intent of the article, and I definitely agree that people should take off work and school for the day so they can be together. I also agree that it should be made a special day – beginning with going to the Eid prayer.

    As someone who grew up Catholic, though, and then spent years as an atheist (still cenlebrating Christmas, just as a day to be with family and exchange gifts), I would really caution against making our Eid a commercially-based holiday. The author may like the custom of buying Christmas gifts, but there are lots of studies showing how many of those gifts are not appreciated by the recipient and are simply put up on a shelf to be forgotten. The stores make lots of money during this season, but this is a huge waste. Gifts are great sometimes, when they mean something, but buying gifts shouldn’t become an obligation that’s just an empty gesture. I would recommend small gifts for children (and others), but plenty of people like to get money or gift certificates to buy what they actually want.

    And while wrapping the gifts is nice, again, it’s a waste. After the money and time spent in wrapping, the paper and decorations are dimply ripped off and thrown away.

    So yes, make the Eid special. Go to the Eid prayer, wear nice clothes, give some charity, visit friends and family, talk about what the day means, give some gifts… but don’t duplicate the extravagance and waste that is often part of Christmas celebrations.

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Coronavirus

Alternative Eid Celebrations In The Midst Of A Pandemic

“Eid-al-Quarantine” is what my sister has so fondly dubbed our upcoming Eid al Fitr this year. I find myself asking, “How are we going to make Eid a fun and special celebration this year in the midst of a dangerous pandemic?” With a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness, this Eid can be fun–no matter the current circumstances. This post will provide you with some inspiration to get your alternative Eid preparations underway! 

Special note: Shelter-in-place restrictions are lessening in many places in the United States, but this does not give us the green light to go back to life as normal and celebrate Eid in the ways we usually would have in the past. I am no health expert, but my sincerest wish for all Muslims throughout the world is that we all err on the side of caution and maintain rigorous precautions.

In-person gatherings are going to be much riskier in light of public health safety concerns. I do not recommend that people get together this Eid. Keep in mind, as well, that this is a big weekend for all Americans, as it is Memorial Day Weekend and crowds may be expected in places like parks and beaches. 

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Eid Day Must’s

Just because you are staying in, doesn’t mean that all of the Eid traditions have to go. Some may be exactly the same, some may be slightly adjusted this year. 

  • Get dressed up, even if it’s just for an hour or two. This might be a good chance to do hair and make up for sisters who normally don’t on Eid because of hijab or other modesty concerns. 
  • Take your family pictures, as usual. 
  • Decorate your house, even if it’s just with some fresh flowers in a vase or hanging up some string lights. (This time, I think sharing pictures of your setup may  have some more wiggle room.)
  • Find a way to pray Eid salah at home, if your local imam mentions a way to adapt for the current situation or check out this MM article
  • Eat some good food, and make sure to feast. 
  • Take that infamous Eid nap. 
  • Greet loved ones (phone calls, video calls, text messages, voice/video messages, make and send Eid cards).
  • Give and receive gifts. (Electronic ways to transfer money/checks in the mail, dropping off gifts to homes/sending gifts in the mail/having an online order pick-up in-store. You may also choose to do a gift exchange, if not this weekend, next). 

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Virtual Parties

Virtual celebrations are a great, safe, option. The best thing about virtual hangouts is that people from all over the world can “come together” to celebrate Eid. This can be as simple as talking and catching up, or can be as orchestrated as a full-out party including games. Keep in mind, the games and virtual parties aren’t only for the kids–everyone should have fun this Eid! We recently threw a virtual birthday party for our one-year-old and it was quite the experience. 

  • Split guests into different calls (kids’ call, adults’ call; men’s call, women’s call)
  • Party agenda for a rigorously planned party so everyone knows what to expect
  • Party games, either with certain items that everyone has (or can easily and quickly purchase) or games that do not require much else besides an internet connection 
    • Games requiring physical items (think of items that everyone is likely to have and think of carnival-type games):
      • Soccer ball juggling or basketball shooting competition
      • Water balloon toss
      • Timed races (three-legged, holding an egg in a spoon, etc.)
    • Games with little to no special equipment
      • Online Pictionary https://skribbl.io/
      • Online Scrabble
      • Video games
      • Charades
      • Taboo (we do this for our cousin game nights with pictures of cards that one person sends to people from the opposite team)
      • Scattergories
      • Bingo
      • Mad libs
      • Speaking games that take turns going around a circle (going through the alphabet saying names of animals or colors or foods, rhyming words [we played the last two lines of “Down by the Bay” for our son’s birthday party])
      • Movement game (Simon says, dancing if you’re into that [“Cha Cha Slide,” dance-off, passing along dance moves as was a TikTok trend I heard of, simply dancing…])
      • Games like in Whose Line is it Anyway? or like the “Olympics” (specifically the “middle games”) that I wrote about way back
  • Performances
    • Skits prepared by one family or even across households
    • Reciting a poem or surah or singing
    • Other showcases of talent, by individuals or not
  • Gift Exchanges (I’ve been doing this virtually since 2013 with friends/distant family members.)

Alternative Virtual/Group Celebrations

Being “together” isn’t always gathering for a party, and that’s what I think most people miss during the forced isolation caused by the pandemic. There are many things you can do to get ready for or celebrate Eid with loved ones even if you’re not together. 

  • Share special recipes with each other or plan to serve the same meals.
  • Coordinate Eid outfits or attempt to do matching henna designs.
  • Send Eid pictures to family and friends.
  • Prepare and cook meals or clean or decorate while on a video call (you don’t have to be talking the entire time).
  • Watch the same movie or show (whether that’s something everyone does as separate households or you do concurrently/even with a video or phone call running. This might be a good time to watch Hasan Minhaj’s “Homecoming King” and do the 10 things it invites us to do.)
  • Go through family pictures or old videos together. Maybe even create a short slideshow/video of your favorites. 
  • Story time full of family legends and epic moments (the best Eid, a difficult time of sickness, immigration or moving story, new baby in the family, etc.). Someone build the fire and get the s’mores going.

Alternative “Outings”

In the same breath, it’s so refreshing to go out and do something fun, not just stay cooped up in your house, right? Seriously. 

  • Check out a virtual museum tour
  • Go on a nice drive to some place you love or miss going to, like drive by the masjid or school or a beautiful area (but stay in your car if there are other people around)
  • Watch an Eid Khutbah (or a regular one) on Eid day (make it special by listening outside in your yard or as a family where you pray).
  • Create a movie theater experience inside the home (that might just mean some popcorn and homemade slushies).
  • Get carry out from a favorite restaurant (if it’s open), and finally have the motivation to take a longer drive if needed
  • Make fruit or gift baskets for friends and family and drop them off at their homes
  • A “paint night,” or some other craft, that everyone in the family participates in
  • Decorate your car and drive around to show it off to friends (I’ve heard there’s an actual Eid car parade at various masaajid in Chicago

Interesting Alternative Community Celebrations I’ve Heard About

Some communities are getting super creative. As I mentioned above, a handful of masaajid in Chicago (Orland Park Prayer Center, Mosque Foundation, and Islamic Center of Wheaton as well as Dar Al Taqwa in Maryland) are putting together Eid drive-thru car parades. I’ve heard of different communities, whether officially sponsored by the masjid or just put together by groups of individuals, having a drive-in Eid salah, in which families pray in their cars in a rented drive-in theater or parking lot (Champaign, Illinois and a community in Maryland). I’m  definitely impressed with that last option, and I’m waiting to hear about more creative ways to get together and worship and celebrate.

So, what am I doing for Eid (weekend) this year? All the must’s, inshaAllah, including getting extra dolled up and making donuts from biscuit dough. A “game night” (virtual party) with alumni from my MSA. A gift exchange party with my cousins as well as another gift exchange party with classmates from my Arabic program (we’ll send unboxing videos out instead of meeting at the same time.) Check out a local college campus we’ve been dying to drive around. Binge a few episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender newly released on Netflix and do some online Memorial Day sale shopping. Le’s put a tentative on all of those, haha.

At the end of the day, Eid al Fitr is about acknowledging the month of worship we engaged in during Ramadan and spending quality time with loved ones. It doesn’t really matter what that quality time looks like–as long as it is intentional, this Eid will be special no matter what, inshaAllah. Who knows, this might be one of the best, most memorable holidays ever!

Eid Mubarak!

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#Society

COVID-19: A Muslim Perspective on Incarceration and Emancipation During A Public Health Crisis

prison

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has brought new challenges to society that demand solutions.  One such dilemma that has emerged is the spread of the novel coronavirus amongst prison populations and staff.

In Maryland, for example, there are over 200 coronavirus cases reported in the Maryland Prison system.  In New York, according to the Wall Street Journal, more than 800 city correction employees have tested positive for Covid-19, and eight have died.  Also, 1,200 inmates have tested positive and there have been at least 10 deaths from COVID-19.

Alarming reports such as these across the nation have sparked a response by the government to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the prison population and among correctional employees.

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In Washington, for example, the governor has commuted approximately 300 sentences, and over 40 prisoners have received work release furloughs.  Around the country, many low-level and non-violent offenders have been released.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, around 300 prisoners have been released in Orange County, Florida. Over 100 inmates have been released from prisons in Nevada and Alabama; 531 people have been released in Philadelphia, PA, and 1,000 prisoners are slated to be released from New Jersey prisons. Similar efforts underway in most states across the country.

In Maryland, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has been at the forefront of the effort to reduce the prison population at-risk for coronavirus, and on Sunday, April 19th, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order granting early release to hundreds of inmates to reduce the spread of the disease.

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The ripple effect of such efforts are having an impact globally. According to reports, Poland has announced plans to release up to 12,000 convicts, and Iran has already released close to 80,000 prisoners.

UN experts have urged action, including Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who stated,

“In many countries, detention facilities are overcrowded, in some cases dangerously so.  The consequences of neglecting them are potentially catastrophic.”

What should inform the Muslim community’s position?

This Ramadan, as we seek to uphold these principles in our daily activities, Muslims cannot neglect prisoners’ rights.Click To Tweet

Following in the example of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the noble qualities of justice, mercy and compassion must be factored into the equation.

He said: “The merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.” (Tirmidhi 1924).

According to a different hadith, or recorded narration of Prophetic sayings, he said: “Allah does not show mercy to those who do not show mercy to people.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

As Imam Omar Suleiman, founder of Yaqeen Institute, stated in part on the Poor People’s Campaign Appeal on Twitter on April 20, 2020:

“Ramadan is a time of fasting and sacrifice to clarify what is necessary and just. It is right and just that protections are enacted for people in mental health facilities, prisons and juvenile detention centers, especially supplies, personnel, testing and treatment. This includes the release of all at risk populations and non-violent offenders and detainees. There are 2.3 million incarcerated people and over 52,000 people in detention centers.”

Conditions in most prisons today clearly create an unsafe environment with regards to the elevated risk of infection with the novel coronavirus.  Releasing low-level, non-violent offenders who are most at risk is an act of Prophetic mercy.

As stated in the Holy Quran: if anyone saves one life, it’s as if they had saved all of mankind. (Surah Ma’idah 5:32).  Saving one non-violent offender from the contagion of Covid-19 in prison may not seem significant in the grand scheme of things, but that act of mercy and compassion reverberates and impacts on greater society.   

In Islamic law, or shariah, maqasid (aims or purposes) and maslaha (welfare or public interest) are two doctrines that inform rulings by jurists.

Maslahah “consist of the five essential values (al-daruriyyat al-khamsah) namely religion, life, intellect, lineage and property.  In this case, it serves the public interest to attempt to reduce the spread of novel coronavirus, thereby furthering preservation of life.

Our country’s broken criminal justice system is in desperate need of restorative measures. Prison is not a place where a civilized society can stow away prisoners, discard the key, and forget about them. Click To Tweet

Prisoners are entitled to basic human rights. To this effect, it is documented that as Caliph, the beloved cousin of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Ali ibn Abi Talib raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), used to inspect the prisons, meet the prisoners in them and inquire about their circumstances.

The urgency of the principles of mercy and preservation of life need to be a priority for those entrusted with the authority to make a difference in the lives of the many low-level, non-violent offenders that find themselves caught in the sinuous vice grip of the penal system.

This Ramadan, as we seek to uphold these principles in our daily activities, Muslims cannot neglect prisoners’ rights.

We must make a difference where we can.

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#Islam

Cultivating Spirituality in a COVID-19 Ramadan

“One of the seven given shade on the Day of Judgment is the man who remembered Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in private and so his eyes shed tears” [Sahih Bukhari]

Ramadan has arrived, and this year, along with a lot of uncertainty for many of us. The Family & Youth Institute (FYI) conducted a survey to better understand the spiritual and community needs of Muslim Americans during this Ramadan. Based on these findings, the primary concerns of American Muslims were found to center around the spiritual growth and connection we associate so much with the community/masjid.

Many of us will miss the social gatherings at iftar time. Men and women who regularly pray at the masjid in congregation will now pray in their homes, alone, or with their families. Youth who find their spiritual high at youth iftars and qiyams with their mentors must find another way to meet this need. Revert Muslims who may not have Muslim families to celebrate with, and as a result rely on the greater Muslim community to experience Ramadan, will need another way to fulfill the feeling of togetherness and seeking knowledge.

We need to recognize that we can take steps to reduce our anxiety and take control of this new Ramadan so that we can enjoy and benefit from it! The tips we’ve outlined below can be found in much greater detail in The Family and Youth Institute’s (The FYI) Covid-19 Ramadan Toolkit!

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The central place of spiritual connection and growth has shifted from the masjid back to the home. So how can we motivate ourselves to feel the spiritual high of Ramadan from our homes? Here are some ways to make the best of our Ramadan that we can benefit from:

 

Know that the masjid misses us as much as we miss it.

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It is missing Quranic recitation, people giving sadaqah, the barakah of people worshipping Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and more. For more on this topic, check out this webinar by The FYI’s Community Educator, Duaa Haggag, about how to keep the masjid alive in our hearts during this month.

Bring the Ramadan feel to your home. 

Now, more than ever, is a time to create a Ramadan home environment that appeals to all of our senses. Many of us do this already if we have children, but now is the time to also do this for ourselves, as adults. This can be done by putting up Islamic visuals (books, decorations), light traditional fragrances you associate with Ramadan, playing your favorite nasheeds, eating traditional foods for Iftar, and so on. These smells, sounds, tastes, and sights will reactivate the feeling you associate with Ramadan, even when you can’t be connected with your community.

Create a spiritual or masjid atmosphere within your home by trying some of the following: 

  • Make a space in your home for yourself where you will pray, read Quran, make du’a, and/or reflect. Have a Quran, dhikr beads, du’a journal/book, and prayer rug easily available for use. Take pictures of your spaces and share them with your friends to encourage each other
  • Mimic the masjid feel by ensuring that the adhan can be heard aloud in the house at all five times of the day
  • If you typically go to the masjid to pray the obligatory prayers, continue to pray at the time of congregation according to your local masjid’s congregation schedule. Lead your family in prayer at these specific times. This encourages you and your family to pray on time while feeling connected to your masjid. If you long to hear the Quran being recited, set that up in your space
  • If you have children, family togetherness will be even more important during this time. Check out the Family Bonding section of The FYI’s Covid-19 Ramadan Toolkit for many more practical tips and strategies

Create a special routine for Jumu’ah within the home.

Take the time to research the sunnah practices of Rasulullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and find creative ways to do them. Here are some other things to try:

  • Use this as an opportunity to learn the etiquettes of and practice giving khutbahs
  • Have a post-Jumu’ah halaqa or listen to one of the many online lectures being shared to maintain the connection
  • While you may not be able to physically go to the masjid for Jumu’ah, you CAN complete the other sunnahs that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) practiced
  • After Jumu’ah is a time when many of us would meet up and catch up with our family and friends. Host a post-Jumu’ah virtual session and share with your family and friends so you can still catch up and meet with them after Jumu’ah
  • Remind yourselves of the blessings and rewards Jumu’ah brings, even if it can’t be done as a community

Revive the Sunnah of praying Taraweeh in the home.

Learn about how praying taraweeh at home was how our beloved Rasulullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Sahabis prayed it. Remind yourself that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is still waiting to reward you and listen to your supplications; that hasn’t changed. Set up virtual connections with friends or family during taraweeh time. You may not be able to pray together but this will help you connect to the same feeling you had in past Ramadans. Re-frame how we feel about a taraweeh at home. Consider our situation as an invitation to spend alone time (khalwa) with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Structure your Day

Now that we are in quarantine, it’s the perfect opportunity to slow down and focus on making the best of the month of Ramadan. Making a schedule allows you to keep a consistent routine while ensuring that your spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and social needs are all being met each day. There will be days when it is hard to follow the schedule, so be gentle with yourself and allow those days to happen.

  • Start your day with a morning virtual group that recites morning du’a and surahs
  • Designate times to recite your favorite dhikr, du’a, and recitation of the Quran
  • Start a gratitude journal writing at least 3 things you are grateful for each day.  Then when supplicating to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), thank Him for these blessings
  • Plan to listen to a weekly lecture/talk that is live, either with organizations or with your local mosque. Set it up on your TV for the whole family to watch together
  • Celebrate iftar preparation; make it a family affair! Challenge the children to set the table based on different themes and take pictures of it
  • Pick the days you will call a family member, neighbor, or elderly person during the week.
  • Make sure to set time for physical activity: Take a walk outside with the family or let your kids pick a sport to play with you after work hours are over
  • If you have children, refer to the Family Bonding section of The FYI’s Covid-19 Ramadan Toolkit to create a schedule with them

Minimize technology

Disengage with technology in order to engage with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

  • Be intentional with how you are using technology and how much you are using it; use it to connect with others, not just to scroll through feeds
  • Set and enforce a Ramadan Family Media contract
  • Monitoring how much we use technology is just as important as monitoring our children’s usage. Refer to The FYI’s Digital Parenting Toolkit for much more resources on properly engaging with media

Quran

We know the month of Ramadan is the month of Quran; though how can we live this during the times we are facing now? Prophethood began when the first revelation came to our beloved Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) when he was in a state of khalwa, or isolation. While we will miss listening to the Quran being recited by the qari every night in taraweeh, we can still keep the Quran wet on our tongues and ears. Try these strategies:

  • Make time for reading and reflecting on the meaning of the Quran– set SMART goals
  • If you have young children and find it challenging to find the time to sit and read the Quran, consider playing it while preparing iftar or taking care of the kids
  • Have a Quran competition within your family or with friends to see who can read the most pages by the end of the month
  • Engage children with the Quran by teaching them stories of the Prophets, reading Surat ul-Qadr, or Al-Alaq
  • Join or start a Quran recitation group where the Quran is being recited
  • Gather some friends that keep you accountable for your Quran goal.  Do a daily check in on a group text when you meet your goal

Du’a

During this unpredictable time, the power of du’a can bring hope by supplicating to our Creator.  It is also a chance for healing and developing good habits. This Ramadan, be intentional about the du’a you choose to recite considering your current circumstances.

  • Make a du’a journal with a list of important du’as to recite during Ramadan. Choose from the common du’as recited by the previous prophets, including Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and your personalized du’a
  • Choose specific times of the day that you will read these du’a such as during tahajjud, right before iftar, or after a salah
  • Involve your children by asking them to make a list of the important people in their lives they want to pray for and share the list with each other. This not only encourages you to be reflective of your physical and emotional needs, but also reminds us of the One who can meet those needs.
  • Start a text group where each person types in one du’a per day on the group and everyone makes the same du’a for each other

It is an understatement that this Ramadan will be an entirely new experience for the Ummah.  While we will miss the spiritual traditions we enjoy every Ramadan, this year is an opportunity to cultivate new traditions.  The opportunities to catch the blessings of Ramadan are not lost; it just looks different this year. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is so Merciful that he will accept our worship for Him wherever we are.  Ask yourself what spiritual acts draw you closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and structure it in your day whether you are working inside or outside of the home.

For much more information on other ways to take advantage of a Covid-19 Ramadan, be sure to explore The FYI’s COVID-19 Ramadan Toolkit

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