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Overcoming Guilt On Eid During Turbulent Times 

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Another Eid is around the corner for Muslims to celebrate, but the Ummah is hurting. What do those of us blessed with peace and prosperity do with our feelings of guilt on Eid?

The upcoming Eid ul-Fitr is one in which Muslims in Palestine are still being terrorized at the hands of a merciless occupation, Uyghur Muslims haven’t been able to fast or observe Ramadan in China, Indian women wearing the hijab are being harassed by right-wing Hindu nationalists, violence is breaking out in Darfur again, and climate change has reared its ugly head with flooding that has killed hundreds of people in South Africa…and the list goes on. There’s plenty of loss and suffering in the world, and more particularly, our Ummah is in pain. So what do those of us who are in relative peace, comfort, and safety do about that, especially when we think about celebrating Eid when the whole world seems like it’s burning to the ground? Well, acting gloomy or depriving yourself and your family from joy on Eid won’t fix any of it. 

As we browse our social media, or scroll through the Netflix documentary queue, or attend a communal du’a, we will be flooded with reasons to be worried and angry about issues large and small. There is plenty of wrong in the world, lots of injustice, and too much suffering. The pandemic has made that clear to even the most oblivious amongst us. 

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But to those who are well off, or at least relatively safe, hearing about these things might provoke a certain degree of guilt. We might even be moved to think that being happy and having a satisfying life means being irresponsible and insensitive to the world around us. Some of us might even feel compelled to act sad or outraged in order to show that we care. 

What is “Happiness Guilt”? 

We feel happy, we feel guilty, and then we feel sadder than ever. 

We call this “happiness guilt.” It may sound strange to our ears, but our hearts know the feeling all too well. Guilt is a normal feeling, it is part of being human. However, to intentionally act unhappy when we are not can actually lead us to feel dissatisfied with life. By saying that we are unhappy, we really aren’t helping to ease others’ suffering. What can help however, is striving to project happiness, and at the same time showing care and concern about the wrongs in the world. 

If we find ourselves projecting more sadness than we truly feel, we may be suffering from a fear of happiness, or a belief that being happy will bring us misfortune, or that happiness will bring about envy from others, or that being happy when others are not makes us a bad person.

 

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Tips for Celebrating Eid Despite Turbulent Times

Being concerned with the world’s problems does not need to conflict with our desire to be happy or to radiate that happiness to others. Here are some tips on how to balance the two.

  • 1: Examine your happiness

Are you overemphasizing the negative aspects in your life and underemphasizing the positive aspects? This can mean we wear a negative filter or bias. When we wear these negative filters, we have a distorted view of life, and we can easily discount the positives around us.

  • 2: ‘Caring’ and not ‘carrying’ other people’s problems

Empathy does not mean caring so much that we burden ourselves with their feelings and take on more responsibility than what we can handle. Empathy is taking a bite-sized portion of the other person’s feeling so that we can have a taste of their struggle enough to understand it, and then do something to help.

  • 3: Take action

Donate to your favorite charity, spread awareness on your social media, talk about it with others. But also remember to balance it with spiritual action. Make sincere du’a for those suffering, and do it while having hope alongside a deep faith in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) plan, and the knowledge that He is the Master of Planners. 

When celebrating on Eid day, you can include local community members who are less fortunate, who are alone, or are going through a difficult time. 

  • 4: You’re allowed to feel happy

Happiness is not limited to only the happiest of times in our lives; happiness can be found even in the saddest of times. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

“Indeed with hardship comes ease” [Surah Ash-Sharh;94:5]

We all possess both sadness and happiness within us, and we can allow them both to dwell within us to achieve a greater balance in life.

  • 5: Spread happiness and hope

We can show concern about others’ struggles while having a smile on our faces. Those who are struggling want to be uplifted and reminded that there is hope.

  • 6: Be grateful

Lastly, as we remember the struggles of others, instead of intentionally becoming sad or guilty, say alhamdulillah for all of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) blessings upon you and your family. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

 

 

“So remember Me; I will remember you. And thank Me, and never be ungrateful” [Surah Al-Baqarah;2:152]

 

May we all have a balanced, and unburdened Eid insha’Allah!

 

Related reading:

This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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

Anika Munshi is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Associate (supervised by Abida Minhas) and is passionate about working with Muslims both as a counselor and a graphic designer. As a counselor, Anika believes in keeping God at the center, and helping individuals heal and grow towards God. Anika has worked as a graphic designer for over 10 years serving Muslim businesses and organizations and incorporates traditional Islamic aesthetics to create modern forms of visual dawah.

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