Under the rubble of our homes, it has been lost. With our dead in the ground, it has been buried. Behind flashes of light in the sky, it has dimmed. Muslims around the world look at Gaza, at Syria, at Rohingya, at Sudan, at the world, and ask, “Where is Eid?”
This is my twentieth Eid al-Fitr, and now I am looking back on the last nineteen, wondering where this sentiment has been in the past. How did we bake sweets, buy new clothes, and celebrate in the past, while undoubtedly, oppression and genocide were occurring somewhere, to someone?
We all know that Eid has never been about sweets, clothes, and money. Of course we should not distract ourselves with these things while our fellow humans are suffering. Of course for weeks these atrocities have consumed our minds and our hearts. So why should Eid be any different?
I understand this feeling. I know this feeling, and it has torn me apart.
I think we need to remember something, though. We need to remember Allah.
Eid is not lost when we remember our brothers and sisters. Eid is lost when we forget to remember God. Eid is lost when the oppressor convinces us we have nothing to left to celebrate. When we become devastated by the thought of children waking up without their fathers on the holiday, by the thought of families displaced without their homes, and by the thought of millions who will continue under a shower of artillery while the Eid prayer athans.
These images have destroyed me countless times throughout my life. It does not compare to the heartache, though, of hearing world say that Eid is lost.
We all have something to celebrate, my friends, and this is just a friendly reminder.
Tomorrow we celebrate Allah and no one else.
We thank Him that He is above every airplane,
that He is in every child’s heart.
We thank Him that He has a plan
when we have nothing left.
We thank Him that His thoughts are higher than ours.
We thank Him that every dark cloud disintegrates quickly
and we see the bright Sun once again.
We thank Him that we can trust Him.
Sometimes we repeat these statements mindlessly. Expressing our gratefulness because we are told we have to, not because we actually feel the overwhelming desire to. I am not telling you what to do; I am even having a hard time to do it myself.
I will tell you, though, that when you stop finding reasons to thank God, when you stop choosing joy, and when you let man dictate whether or not you find Eid, you are not helping anyone. You are only destroying yourself further.
God is greater than any disaster or pain or loss. By choosing to remember this, you are resisting. This is what Eid has always been about. No matter the circumstances in the world, no matter how much we can or cannot celebrate, no matter who we are with, we rejoice that above all of these things we find God and His mercy.
Alhamdulillah that God has opened our eyes this Ramadan, and called us to remember those suffering around the world. For this let us stand before Him tomorrow, and thank Him. Ask Him to use us to continue making a difference in our communities and for His children everywhere.
Pray for them.
I grew up knowing that our separation was only temporary. It was not a hope, or a dream, or wish. It was a fact. As the two poles of a magnet always come back together, I knew that, one day, we would all do the same. We would all be back together. We would all be around the fire. We would all be in a circle singing, and clapping, and dancing. Not one of us would be estranged. Not one of us would be missing from the circle. Our arms would be intertwined around the fire and there would be not one break in the line.
I grew up knowing that, one day, all of my family would be back together again. But as I grow older, what was once a fact to me has slowly turned into a hope that is far from ever becoming a reality.
Yet I still can’t shake this image of the fire from my mind. I have imagined it so many times. I have seen my uncle playing the oud, the light from the fire shining on his face as he sings. I have seen my cousins resting their knees in the sand, swaying to the rhythm. I see everyone. I see all of my cousins around the fire with me. No one is in Europe, no one is in Canada, no one is in the United States, no one is in Saudi Arabia, or Dubai, or Jordan, or Bahrain. No, we are all in Gaza, where our grandfather (May God rest his soul) left us.
What we would all give to make this our reality, I can’t even tell you. What we would all give to never again have to choose between “having a future” and having a family. What we would all give to live in a world where our opportunities wouldn’t depend on our location or our nationality, or even our name. What we would all give to provide our children “better futures” on the same land where we built our history.
I have this image of us all around the fire, and I am slowly realizing that this image will likely remain forever as an imagination. Unfortunately, my heart cannot keep pace with my mind. For when this image comes to my mind, my first feeling is not hopefulness; it is fact, definiteness. “I can’t wait for this to happen,” my heart continues to say, as it has since I was a child. It has not evolved based on the hardships I’ve faced and the separation I’ve experienced and the information I’ve learned, as my mind has. My heart continues to tell me that this is more than an imagination, that this, one day, will be a fact. All of us will come together again.
Our blood is like a magnet that pulls us all together. And when these moments come, moments of pure mindfulness that I am here, and not there, a force within my blood arises with indescribable strength. And just like my heart, which remains steadfast and secure in the reality of this image, my blood ceaselessly pulls with incredible force toward our togetherness.
In the face of such power, the slow emergence of my rationale that follows this image is made even more painful. Within milliseconds, I begin to remember what I have learned and what I have experienced and what I have faced. Each of these memories infiltrates my soul, and one by one, causes the momentum of my certainty to subside. Within milliseconds, this image retreats back, as only a hope and a dream.
Why is it that “temporarily” has come to feel like “permanently”? Why is it that our identity was once a fact, but has come to feel like only a hope, and a dream?
Inspired by my aunt, Mona.