All of us at Muslimah Media Watch send our best wishes to all of our readers this Eid-ul-adha (whichever day/s you are celebrating it!) Have a happy and blessed holiday!
All of us at Muslimah Media Watch send our best wishes to all of our readers this Eid-ul-adha (whichever day/s you are celebrating it!) Have a happy and blessed holiday!
As one final addition to our Ramadan 2013 posts, we wanted to share a series of reflections on how Eid was spent among some of our writers. Writing, respectively, from South Africa, Pakistan, Canada, and Kuwait, MMW bloggers Safiyyah, Merium, Shireen, and wood turtle bring us their experiences of food, gender issues, politics, and celebration.
Safiyyah (South Africa)
In South Africa this year, ‘Eid day coincided with our national holiday, “Women’s Day” on 9 August. Women’s Day in South Africa is a commemoration of the brave group of women who took to the streets to protest in 1956, against the Apartheid Regime and its racist laws. Of the core group of organizers and leaders of the historic march was Muslimah, Rahima Moosa. I am very proud, as a South African Muslim women of this legacy left to us by our female struggle veteran
One of the protest songs sung on the day was “Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!” (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock) which has come to represent the courage and strength of South African women.
Our masjid (Masjid ul-Islam in Brixton, Johannesburg) commemorated Women’s Day with a jumu’ah lecture by sister Rehana Moosajee, who has worked in government for over decade. She reflected on the struggle for gender equality and the way forward. For me, what stood out is her emphasis on the idea that women’s participation in any sphere cannot be measured in numbers alone, especially when organizations still operate on male-paradigms and patriarchal values.
This Ramadan had been better than the last two years for me, because my toddler twins are more independent and sleep (a little) more. I managed to make it to the masjidmost evenings, and even had the opportunity of delivering the tafseer of the Qur’an which would be recited in taraweeh to the entire congregation (men and women) a few nights. The masjid coordinators organized a child-care room for the first 8 rak’at of taraweeh, and both my husband and I were able to volunteer, as well as benefit from the facility. Whilst the broader Muslim community has a long way to go in ensuring equality of the sexes in Islamic education and sacred spaces, I was proud on ‘Eid day, to belong to a thriving community in which the participation of women has truly been transformative.
Although we have nothing special planned this Eid, our celebrations are dampened by the news of another bombing in Quetta on Chand Raat (celebratory evening of moon-sighting announcing the end of Ramadan). I’m shaken by the idea of dead bodies in a house on Eid Day – imagine facing a death of a loved on Christmas day – devastating. And after losing my grandmother just before this holy month, the images conjured up by the Quetta bombing are particularly painful.
Nonetheless, my mother is up early (still on the Ramadan sleep cycle) whipping up sheer khurma (a sweet staple that heralds Eid day) and a batch of her famous haleem – a slow-cook meat and lentils dish that’s worth the wait and takes hundreds (if not thousands) of hand stirring motions to get that “cottony” consistency. I wake up to the mouth-watering scent of fried cumin and chilli, the final step to the dish which ends with a liberal drizzle of the hot, buttery oil on the haleem, resulting in a tell-tale sizzling sound.
Mum and I spend much of the next few hours cleaning and cooking (some more); fresh linen everywhere, new crockery and cloth napkins for the main plates. Our housekeeper Nadine, is away on Eid holidays herself and deserves a break even more than we do. Separated from her husband who took a second wife in hopes of a male child, Nadine cleans houses for a living and is raising her daughters on these meager wages. While many have suggested she get a divorce, Nadine confesses that she’d rather survive being “estranged” from her husband than being divorced in this society. “My daughters will never be able to marry into good families if their mother is a dirty divorcee,” she says. As karma would have it, Nadine’s husband just had another daughter with his second wife.
Everyone loves the haleem with naan. They ooh and aah over the freshly set table and fizzy drinks in crystal glasses. The house sparkles and the calming scent from lavender candles meshes perfectly with the aroma wafting from the kitchen. And with the gentle pitter-patter of rain outside, you could almost almost forget we’ll be spending the next four hours cleaning up. There will be dishes to wash, linen to de-stain, toilets to unclog and left-overs to wrap and freeze. Eid day is work. Hard work.
Mum and I end the day with a cup of hot chai, lounging round the sofa watching TV. Unfortunately for us, our day is bookended by news of an attempted suicide attack, this time on a Shia mosque in Islamabad, just hours away from where we live. While the attempt was foiled, the potential fall-out of such an attack leaves me sad and angry. But I have barely any energy to muster for a Facebook rant or discussion with a friend. I switch off the TV and return to my tea and biscuits.
After a challenging Ramadan full of stresses and blessings, I was looking forward to enjoying a predictably uneventful Eid Salah, held in a huge sports complex – to my usual delight, on an indoor football pitch.
The khutbah had the usual contents: commentary on the mercies of Ramadan, requests for extra generosity for Masjid expansion projects, reminders for women to be covered in prayer (*yawn*), and the usual political allies of the Masjid board.
*Cue to screen: Grinning, wealthy, white woman in a draped pashmina*
“Assalamalaykam. Eid Faadir Mabrurak!” She exclaims carefully. I try not to discount her. Yet. She begins very loud: “I am the representative for your Riding. And- I – want- to – thank- you- and – say…”
I am fully rapt with attention. Not because she is saying anything of significance but because she is speaking English to us (and by us I mean 7000 Muslim-Canadians, mostly South Asian, many of whom have been settled for decades, if not born and educated here) as if we are hearing impaired. I worked in Settlement Services for a long time. Even my ESL teacher colleagues never patronized newcomer students by speaking in such a manner.
“I am Catholic and we have our special, spiritual time too!” [Mandatory #SharedValues insert.] She throws in precious “Allah, the Creator” gems. The crowd nods appreciatively. Babies cry around me. I am with them on this one.
She continues to explain to us how she is always helping us with Immigration and Citizenship concerns. We are lucky to be in Canada, a “tolerant and wonderful land of opportunity.” She is honoured to work with us. (*cringe*)
Good thing my hijab is covering the steam coming from my ears.
How about recognizing that all people in Canada, other than First Nations, are immigrants? *crickets*
If the only relevant topic any politician can think to speak of is immigration, as opposed to, I don’t know…urgencies in health care, (Primary Care physician shortage, ER wait times, inaccessibility to Specialists), education, job accessibility, issues of gender in the community, safety, then I would rather they. not. come. at. all.
I realize it’s not the most hospitable of sentiments on Eid. But I always felt that Canada was far more tolerant without anyone reminding me how lucky I am to be here.
My body gets rigid and my Mom pats my arm. I can hear her wordlessly saying “Do this. Almost over!” Obviously, I have mentally composed a letter to her office. It’s over soon enough.
We pray, I recover quickly, entertain myself with the chaos in the parking lot, and am able to forget about her nonsense. I go home drown my grumpiness in haleem, family and joy.
I entertain family and friends. The Polish lady helping me is enamoured with the celebration. She is lovely and keeps wishing us “Merry Christmas.” Our Hindu neighbours join us, our Jamaican friend comes over and the Chinese neighbours walk by, wish us happy Eid and wave. I know how lucky I am, Alhumdullilah.
Eid for our small family usually means dressing in our finest, rushing to pray with thousands at an exhibition hall, patiently listening to elected officials remark on the amazing diversity of Canada’s mosaic, and delighting the children with bouncy castles for a few hours before returning home or going back to work.
This year, we celebrated ‘Eid in our pyjamas.
Many mosques in Kuwait start ‘Eid prayers at about 5:15am in the morning. So most of the household just didn’t bother going to bed — we stayed up all night chatting with extended family members, applying henna, praying Fajr and listening to several of the neighbourhood mosques chanting the takbirat, broadcast high above the city from minaret speakers. Then, bleary-eyed, we threw abayas over our pyjamas and carried the still sleeping children outside to pray in a rocky parking lot.
Carpets softened the makeshift musalla and a caterer distributed cold dates and water while the men sat in the open-air and women took their place in a special section behind them. To ensure “maximum privacy,” the women’s section was enclosed on three sides by a large beige tarp — which doesn’t provide much of a view, but beats staring at a paved road.
This year our speaker system unfortunately cut out just as the khateeb brought up the topic of women. A few people took the silence that followed as a cue to wish everyone a happy ‘Eid Mubarak, many waited patiently, and I peeked over the tarp to see what the men were up to. Later, the Hubby told me the sermon was very positive — telling everyone that women should be an essential part of the community, working and volunteering publicly. That women should be elevated, empowered and proud. A lovely sentiment, but pretty ironic without a game plan to change societal perceptions and when we’re peeking from behind the tarp.
An irony I largely ignored in favour of experiencing a fun and privileged ‘Eid day with friends and family in a city where the overwhelming majority celebrated as well. In Canada, the prayer itself seems to be the main event and I’ve always felt slighted at being told how empowered I am on ‘Eid, while mosque officials put me in a basement every other day of the year.
We later breakfasted with family at an aunt’s house — enjoying creamy and strong cooked tea, eating a sweet pasta dish called atriya and home made Yemeni bread, all lovingly cooked by the grandmothers in the family. Then we retuned home to sleep before finally dressing in new ‘Eid clothes and spending the rest of the day party hopping, gift exchanging with the family and wandering the hallways of a flashy and trendy mall with thousands of other families enjoying the same.
Writing this as Eid approaches, I’m reminded of all the different ways people might experience this occasion. This post is my way of showcasing such varying experiences. Each short story below is told from the point of view of a member of a household. I hope you enjoy them. Eid Mubarak!
Heels. For Tanzi, Eid is all about a pair of strappy, silver heels. They sit nestled in the corner of Baji’s almari, covered in a layer of forgotten dust. There’s a tear to one of the straps and the heel of the left shoe is loose. Tanzi knows this because she tried them on that one time when Baji’s rich son had come from Islamabad and taken everyone out for Iftari. It was a good day because Baji had shared roti and ketchup packets with her afterwards. Ketchup always makes Ammi’s daal taste better, like thick, chicken curry – salty and even a little sweet.
Ammi says never to covet other people’s things; not their shoes, their cars or their lives. She says Allah Mian gives everyone what they deserve. But Baji is not a nice person, not always. And Tanzi’s not sure that she deserves any of this. Sometimes when Baji’s happy, she thankfully ignores her. But when she’s angry, like when Nonni, her daughter, stumbles around, whimpering, struggling on her leg brace because she refuses to practice with crutches, Baji makes Tanzi work all day, even out in the courtyard when the sun is at its peak. It’s so humid in the summer, much like it is these days, and her clothes are always drenched in sweat by the time she leaves. She hates how stiff they are the next morning and always prays Baji doesn’t complain about the smell. But Baji does, about other things too. [Read more...]
Ramadan is here! And although its true essence is all about our pursuit of spiritual elevation, we – Muslims – celebrate it in every way possible. Thus, special memories about Ramadan are engraved in our hearts, and I would like to share some of mine here.
1. I was born in Ramadan: When I was a little kid, I thought this makes me special. Ramadan is a holy month and I always believed that anyone born in this month is holy or maybe a wali (saint)! This was my childhood wishful thinking, for I’m nothing near that holy state, but still feel happy for this fact and celebrate it. Next year inshAllah my Hijri birthday will coincide with my Gregorian birthday (which tells a lot about my age if you know what I mean!)2. Ramadan Specials: Kunafa, Atayef, Amar eldein and Khushaf. These are desserts that I can’t imagine Ramadan without and you will not find them any time in the rest of the year (except for Kunafa).
Kunafa, the most famous Ramadan dessert, comes with variety of fillings: cream, nuts, raisins, cheese (especially in the Levant), and the most recent addition, mango! It is almost a ritual for me to watch the Kunafa maker (In Egypt we call him Kanafany) prepares Kunafa dough in the street. Nowadays there are machines that produce Kunafa dough to accommodate for the huge demand, but nothing beats the scene of the Kunafa maker doing it himself! [Read more...]
As you know, last Friday was Eid-ul-Adha, a major holiday for Muslims around the world. Having enjoyed sharing our Ramadan experiences with our readers earlier this year, the MMW team wanted to briefly share some experiences and reflections on this Eid, focusing especially on the role of gender in how Eid is experienced in our respective communities. In this second segment, Eren, wood turtle, Krista and Azra reflect on Eid prayers and holiday traditions in North America. (Update: You can read part 1 here.)
In the past few months I have grown away from my community in Western Canada. As a convert, and especially as a woman, I have found very challenging to grow spiritually in a community that endorses “tolerance” for women rather than inclusion.
This year, as Eid Al-Adha approached, I had to ponder whether or not to attend prayers and celebrations as I would be treated as an “unwanted guest.” While Eid celebrations are some of the few events were women are really encouraged to attend, spaces and accommodation does not always make it easier for women to partake in the ritual.
Attending communal events often means small and less maintained spaces for women to pray, strong emphasis on women’s outfits, and complete gender segregation, including families. Sometimes it just seems that bringing women into the picture is a hassle.
Some women in my community have had their share of disappointments while trying to claim a space in the mosque, but this is not only a challenge when it comes to the mosque’s leadership. While I do not know the opinions of the men in my community, as we never share the same space, some women strive to maintain the mosque a highly patriarchal environment with little space for women.
In an attempt to preserve what they consider to be “real Islam,” some women endorse the restriction of their own rights and spaces in favour of men in the community. Surprisingly, an increasing number of young women participate in this. Thus, they advocate for segregated prayer spaces, strict dress codes, and exclusion of other groups such as LGBTQ Muslims and non-practicing Muslims. Similarly, it is sometimes these same women the ones that advise other women not to attend prayers and events with small children as they “disrupt” the men and older women in the congregation.
All this combined tends to make some women, including me, feel like strangers in a sacred place that supposes to feel like home. It discourages us from practicing and taking part in community activities. At the same time, it discourages understanding between men and women in the community by defining us as two distinct groups that are in opposition to each other. And when I think about all this, I just wonder, are we really such a hassle that they need to make the huge effort of “tolerating” us?
wood turtle (Canada)
Now that my daughter is old enough to enjoy and recognize celebrations, I’ve decided to make Eid all about her. So, knowing that I’d probably pray outside the main prayer hall away from my Hubby, behind a projected image of the imam, and hear a generic ‘Eid sermon on Abraham’s sacrifice – this ‘Eid I just went through the motions, putting aside any desire or hope for an inclusive mosque experience, while making sure my daughter had a day filled with balloons, bouncy castles and halal marshmallow cupcakes. [Read more...]
As you know, last Friday was Eid-ul-Adha, a major holiday for Muslims around the world. Having enjoyed sharing our Ramadan experiences with our readers earlier this year, the MMW team wanted to briefly share some experiences and reflections on this Eid, focusing especially on the role of gender in how Eid is experienced in our respective communities. In this first segment, Anike and Izzie both reflect on the role of women in cooking and preparing food for the Eid celebrations, and on how this affects women’s experiences of Eid and access to Eid prayer. (Update: You can read part 2 here.)
I spent Eid this year at hometown in Nigeria where we stayed with my grandmother in our ancestral home. This Eid was like most others I’ve spent at home; pleasantries were being exchanged as early as right after morning prayers, and they continued through the morning, with several family members coming to give their greeting. When the time for Eid prayers came, the men and children left to the mosque, leaving us women behind. Usually at this time, the women would begin cooking and preparing for the men to return so that the lambs can be slaughtered and cleaned. But this Eid was different because my mother and aunties wouldn’t have to go through the stress of meat cleaning; that task was relegated to professional cooks who had been hired by a friend of my mother’s.
When it comes to Eid and how Nigerian women experience it, all I can think of is missing Eid prayers due to cooking for the festivities. Last week I asked my aunts how many times they’d being to Eid prayers and among all of us, we concluded that we’d only gone to the prayers as children and only two or three times as adults. I can’t say that Eid is a day of celebration, relaxation or prayer for women who labour over cooking dishes in several large pots for entire households almost all day long.
Class privilege also fits into this equation. Wealthy women generally do not have to worry about being stressed by the time Eid day is over, while Muslim women from poor backgrounds, like the ones who take on cooking labours for other families, may end up spending Eid away from their families.
I was unexpectedly rushed to my husband’s hometown this Eid. His parents had gone for Hajj, and hence, we were celebrating Eid in my husband’s ancestral home where his grandparents and mother’s sisters lived.
To give you a little sneak a peek into my life, I was married this February and my husband’s home is around 500 km away from mine – which means that our cultures, food habits, accents, all of it is entirely different. I am also a working woman, which is not common in his area.
In my husband’s place, there are two major schools of thought among Muslims, and only one allows women to go to mosques. My husband’s father goes to mosques where women are allowed, but his mother’s family doesn’t, which means that I would be the only woman who goes to the Eid Gaah for prayer. My husband’s seven-year-old niece came along to give me female company. Apart from the fact that I enjoy congregational prayers and the sermon, and the whole festival feel it has to it, one major advantage of being the only woman in the house who is going to the mosque is that, once you return after the prayer, the major part of the cooking is over. And you don’t need to feel guilty that you didn’t help out. (Wicked, I know!) [Read more...]