Some deep “conversations” with Eid-el-Fitr
Welcome! I say welcome to the day in which we move from time into time, from season into season.
I say welcome to the day of festival – a day in which hours are known by moments and moments are relived in eternity.
Welcome to hours of happiness and laughter; hours in which we manifest feelings of brotherhood, hours in which we fulfill oaths and pledges.
The hours of ‘Eid are unique in more ways than you can imagine.
They are hours in which we wish one another bliss and eternal happiness.
“Kullu aamin wa antum bi khyarin” -in every season shall you be happy and good’, that is the salutation of the believer, on this occasion, to other believers.
Yes. I do not know of any other faith or creed apart from Islam in which such outward expression of goodwill and happiness for the other is inscribed into acts of worship.
Let me therefore greet you in the spirit of the moment, the moment of the ‘Eid- “Kullu aamin wa antum bi khyarin”.
But the day of ‘Eid is unique for other reasons too: it is that day we adorn the best clothes we can lay our hands on.
In fact, it is Sunnah that we wear the best of our clothes on that day. It is therefore the day of clothes.
The clothe we wear today should remind us of the first clothe we wore for the first time we emerged into this world.
Here reference is to the first clothes bought for us by our fathers; the first clothes our mothers put on our heads, in our hands.
The clothes we were adorned with in order that our nudity may be covered.
Yes. It is the day of ‘Eid. Today, the day of ‘Eid, is the day we wear new clothes. But those new clothes should remind you of those ‘other’ clothes too. Yes.
It should remind you of the person who bought that clothe for you and me; it should remind you and me of that beautiful face, the face of your mother and mine, which radiated smile and happiness as she bore the brunt of nurturing and preserving our humanity.
For her, it was not the clothes that we wore that were beautiful. No. The clothes became beautiful only when we were adorned with it.
Ditto for my father and yours too. The world was beautiful not because it was and still is the world; the world only became beautiful by the smile of happiness that emerged on my face on that day.
In other words, the clothes I wore that day, that day when I hardly knew what life was nor what the world meant, became the new world for my mother and my father.
I became the world. I was the world.
Thus the day of ‘Id is the day of clothes; the day of loving mothers and caring fathers. So, where is your mother now? What clothes is she putting on today, in this hour? Where is your father at this moment?
Whereas she may not find use for new fabrics and attires anymore and whereas your father may have left this world or have been left behind by the world, these realities do not in any way relieve you of the duty of putting on their bodies and souls “clothes” of mercies and compassion.
“Say!” so says the Quran, “O! Almighty shower thy mercies on them as they showered me with mercy when I was young” (Quran 17:24).
That exactly is the spirit of the ‘Id- that is the message the ‘Id has come to deliver to us.
But the first clothe we wore when we first came to this world, the clothes bought for us by our father, the clothes our mothers put on our bodies when we hardly could make sense of the word and the world, are after all metaphors.
The clothe I wore that day was a signifier. It called attention to the last clothe that will equally be put on my body and yours the day we expire.
Thus the day of ‘Id, being the day of clothes, the day of happiness should serve to prepare us for the ‘awdah- the return.
Thus ’Id days should be days of happiness tempered by solemnity and subtlety.
Today should be a day we address the reality that if indeed the ‘Id is all about the return of the departed, we must therefore constantly prepare for a departure without return.
Still in conversation with the ‘Eid, I began to wonder whether the day of the ‘Eid is actually not the day of the individual in the communal; the festival of the community circumscribed by the slippery notions of individuality of its membership.
The ‘Id day is that day in which the happiness of one is realized in and through the happiness of all. It is only in the festival of al-Fitr and al-Kabir that I realize I am beautiful simply because you are handsome.
Yes. The ‘Eid day is that day in which sweet drinks and food taste better than other days. Yes.
And why not? The food and drinks would taste better simply because they would be “celebrated” by tongues whose vocation in the past twenty nine or thirty days have been delimited to the celebration of the glory of the Almighty.
They would taste better simply because they would be welcomed by that ‘canine community’ which had gone on leave from tasting the unlawful during the past one month.
How would the food and drinks not taste better when the soul had gone through the furnace of spiritual re-awakening.
Better shall the food and drinks continue to taste in our mouths when we realize that our happiness lies in sharing our prosperity with those whose lot it is to remain, at least down there and for now, in the abyss of want and poverty.
Thus when next it returns, may the ‘Eid meets us all in an higher locale of existence where the uncountable finds more relevance than these countable distractions of earthly acquisitions.
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