Continuing our tradition of sharing reflections on Eid (see our posts from Eid-ul-Adha last year, in two parts, and from Eid-ul-Fitr this year), today we’ll be posting four reflections from Eid last week, written by Eren, Izzie, Krista, and Shireen.
I have a love-hate relationship with Islamic holidays, and this Eid was no exception. While I am often encouraged by other fellow Muslims to get into the “spirit” of Eid, I always find that the holidays do not completely satisfy my spiritual needs.
Since my conversion to Islam, I had found a little niche among other converts in my city. We would get together and try to enjoy Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, and Eid-ul-Adha. Normally, Eid would go something like this: I would wake up, meet with fellow converts for breakfast, go for prayer, and spend the rest of the day getting upset at the fact that the prayer space was crappy, or that the imam said a bunch of inappropriate things in his speech.
This year, though, I spent Eid alone in a new city with a highly segregated community. The Eid-ul-Adha prayers were held in a big building, with Muslims from different backgrounds congregated to pray but rarely crossing the lines of racial difference. I was not surprised to find the area separated with a line of chairs. Men were at the front, while women and children prayed behind. The sound system was horrible… obviously no one had bothered to check whether one could hear the imam from the women’s section. The interesting thing is that, unlike Muslim women in my previous city, these Muslimahs did not care much for what the imam was trying to say (and they couldn’t hear). As soon as the prayer was over, most of the ladies went about their business, talking, laughing and visiting the bazaar outside the prayer space, without bothering with the imam’s speech.
I sat there for few minutes after the prayer, observing everything around me. A Somali kid was sitting beside me; he kept asking his mom, “Why are we with the Arabs, mama?” His mom, embarrassed, asked him to be quiet. Eventually the kid looked at me and continued to stare. “Are you Arab?” he asked. “No,” I replied. “What are you?” “I am Mexican,” I said. He looked at me with skepticism and went on to whisper in his mom’s ear. I was not totally surprised. Since I moved here I have gotten mixed reactions to my appearance in hijab while in the mosque. I have gotten questions about me being Malaysian, Indonesian, Lebanese, Chinese, Afghani, etc. They all end up with me saying, “no, I am Mexican,” and people responding “oh, ok,” with disappointment.
Thus, this year’s Eid was by far the strangest: a short prayer, in a peculiar city, and with a congregation that was diverse but did not encourage unity.