Many Eid moon-phases ago, I was a new Muslim convert. I have gone to several Eid events during those lunar phases. And like the moon changes, time has changed some of my views on such joyous events. I still attend though, I do.
I love the anticipation of preparing Eid clothes the night before, or, since energy is sometimes lacking these days, the morning of… Searching for my mother’s vintage seventies turquoise watch and ring, maybe a necklace given by a beloved sister so many years prior, and the Algerian silver bangle I snatched from my eldest daughter.
Recently, to add to my attire, a beautiful black and white silk block print shawl made in Malaysia, which was gifted to me from a dear sister/friend in KSA and graces my old shoulders. While I definitely miss the Eids of the past with many of my Muslims sisters I have met across the globe. I still feel a connection to them when I am able to wear a cherished gift.
Another Eid memory sticks out too: the chore of ironing clothes beforehand has always plagued me. To this day, a sister/friend from orbits past still loves to tease me on my ‘skill’ of ironing twice a year. And then there is the morning of Eid itself nowadays. Rushing out the door to arrive in time, urging my husband, ‘Let’s go, go. Come on old man!’
On arrival, even parking is a thrill. Who will double-park, who will invent new parking spaces, and who will actually observe the parking rules? Watching people exiting their cars in all their finery is also a delight.
Seeing the children in their beautiful shalwar kamiz’, abayas, thobes and the colours – oh, the colours of Eid are a beautiful sight to behold: the crimson reds, the majestic blues, royal purples, vibrant yellows and oranges.
Attending Eid events now I carry more experience; experience shaped through years of a tougher, crustier, desert skin added over my sensitive one.
Such experiences began here: our community in Tucson held its first Eid celebrations at Christopher City. Christopher City was the University of Arizona’s family and international housing complex, which had event rooms to use for special occasions.
As a young convert, new to the Muslim community in Tucson, I remember vividly my first Eid function, in the Santa Rita room of Christopher City. My husband and I were told there would be an Eid dinner for everyone there. Although I was very much a newbie, I still wanted to go. After all, it was my new holiday. I was ready to celebrate.
Tables of food were set in the entry hallway to serve us dinner. After I got my plate of rice, lamb, and salad, I went into the event room to join the other women for our Eid dinner. A few women were already there. They were settled with their food plates, drinks, babies in carriers and kids in strollers or running here and there. More women came as time passed.
I found a place to eat. And I did, with satisfaction. It was good, really, really good. The aromas and tastes of deliciously cooked food, full of flavour and zest were life-changing. Those delicious morsels of rice, lamb, even the salad, were beyond anything I had been accustomed to. I was a scrawny girl who grew up on boiled water, mashed potatoes garnished with cigarette ash and pork chops, surrounded by adults drinking hi-balls of vodka with orange juice. This was quite a profound change.
While the dinner itself was a grateful celebration, what was less welcome was that during the entire time not one person came over to me to wish me Happy Eid or to sit with me. I was new to the crowd and somehow had assumed that someone, anyone who had been in the Muslim community longer than me would approach me. How wrong I was.
I finished my Eid dinner and left the room to find my husband. I wanted to go home. Now. I told him about how awful I felt. How no one talked to me. I cried. He listened. Back at that time, we were both new to the community. He did not know any of the menfolk well enough to ask, ‘Will your wife be there to meet my wife, she’s new to all of this…?’ There wasn’t much he could do to help me, but he did help me by listening.
I bring this memory up now as a reminder to myself and anyone else who may want to share it: during the adventures yet to come this Eid, the prayers, parties, dinners, clique dinners, and so on and so forth, ask yourselves,
What if you and I see a new face at (y)our Eid prayer? A dinner or picnic?
If we do, will we take the time to greet, and welcome them? Chat a bit?
They may be a non-Muslim guest. They may be a new convert to Islam. They may be a new member of your community or someone who has been unmosqued and is now courageously stepping back into the realm. No matter where we are, if we see a new face, we need to put this on the menu: they need our greeting. Don’t let them go home in tears of frustration or anger. Give them a nice memory to take home with them. I guarantee you they will hold it in their hearts and may someday share it with others too.
Eid Mubarak to you all.