Right now, when we greet one another with the greetings of peace, it is followed by a contemplative comment on the passing away of Ramadan for another year. Ramadan, personified in many traditional Arabic and Urdu Nasheeds as a 'beloved visitor', is welcomed with open arms, and by the end of its visit, we, the hosts, are sad about it's departure- hopeful though, that we'll meet again next year.
When Ramadan leaves, however, a great day of celebration - Eid ul Fitr comes as a blessing to all. 'Eid' translates as 'the returning celebration', while 'Fitr' means literally 'breaking', in this context, the breaking or ending of the month spent in fasting. As Muslims, life in all aspects should be one of balance. The month of fasting, praying and reflecting is rigorous. Hence Allah, The Most Merciful, blesses us with the ease and enjoyment of Eid at the end of it: as expressed in an Arabic Eid greeting 'May Allah bring anew each year all the baraqah (blessing), mercy, goodness.'
As we approach the day of celebration with many preparations, no doubt already underway, we as a community need to ensure we keep a sense of balance too. Unfortunately, for many, too many families, Eid is hardly acknowledged. It comes low down on the list of priorities - as anniversaries and birthdays are treated with far more value. Women and children never make it to the Eid prayer- although it is highly recommended by the Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him) for everyone to attend, and the telephone line is the only channel of Eid greetings. In this scenario, it is little wonder that children understand far more about the manifestations of Halloween and Valentines Day than they do Eid ul Fitr.
On the other hand, there are growing numbers of enterprising families who are doing their best to make Eid a real occasion for the whole family, neighbourhood and even their local school. Their collective initiatives have bridged the gap of celebrating Eid outside a Muslim country, which has always presented a challenge.
Caution, however, needs to be applied and the sense of balance always brought in as a yardstick. As the timing of Eid ul Fitr falls near the festivities of December, how far are our preparations mimicking the consumerism around us? If we fall prey to the advertising and start to create a 'must have' culture in our families, trying to exceed last years 'sack full', then we only have ourselves to blame if Eid becomes a dreaded occasion, as children whine a chorus of 'I wants' for weeks ahead.
With some collective reflection, we can preserve Eid as a day of contentment, a day of the needy being provided for, a day of thanking Our Sustainer for His infinite mercy and gifts bestowed on us. After spending thirty days doing one's best to seek the pleasure of God, let not the day of Eid be the first day of earning His displeasure by going to excesses, be it in food, clothing or what we do. The tradition of having the Eid prayer in the open, in a field or some similar place sums up the beauty and simplicity of Eid; standing together - all equal, the sky as our roof and the earth our carpet praising Our Creator.