It’s taken me a while to write about this mainly because of the shock and disappointment at my first eidgah. I don’t think I wrote about my two previous ‘attempts’ to attend previous eidkhutbahs but needless to say they both pretty much nearly ended in tears. After my first eid I was still very green and knew very few Muslims so my first Ramadaan was very isolated but I was at least determined to attend the eidkhutbah. Somehow I got the times wrong and of course there was no one to cross-check these things with so I ended up arriving at the masjied literally as people were joyously walking out and hugging and shaking hands doing the typical eid thing. I was crushed! (okay, it wasn’t a complete disaster of a day since I spent the rest of it with some really warm Muslims, but missing the eidgah was devastating). The following year – last year eidulfitr happened to fall on the very last day with my now previous employer and I had so much on my plate that I ended up working that day (one of the reasons I left). The working wasn’t so bad since I was also celebrating my departure. The hardest part was the fact that in the morning I’d dropped off a friend at the airport who was flying off to be with his family and the airport, at 4 in the morning, was abuzz with Muslims (all decked out in their finest kurtas, no less!) excitedly flying off to be with their families and here I was not only having to go to work, but literally having to acknowledge that I will never share eidulfitr with my family. I think I understand why reverts, especially those who don’t come to Islam through marriage, themselves revert back to Christianity or whatever else they came from. Not a lot of people can handle the loneliness that comes with being an ‘outsider’ and if you don’t remind yourself why you came to Islam in the first place, one can crack.
So it is against this background that I was determined not to screw up my eidulfitr arrangements this year. So much so that I must have double checked the dates at least once every hour every day. I did make it for the khutbah and I will admit there were aspects about it which were beautiful. It was a beautiful day and we were fortunate enough to be able to sit outside. Also unlike other groups (like the Durban crowd which is a whoooooooooooooolestory on its own!!), this centre not only ‘allowed’ us womenfolk to attend (see the tongue in cheek?) but allowed us to participate behind the men. I will give credit where it is due and this centre is really in tune with Islam as far as women’s accommodation and participation is concerned.
That said, I was very disappointed by the Sheikh’s khutbah which was so much about feel-good-hippy-stuff and so much about, ‘oh we’ve fasted and it’s like we’ve come into the garden’ and now lets just bask in Allah’s glory and just get happy and joyous. That kind of thinking to me is very very selfish and I will say perhaps even shocking that at a time when there is a famine and humanitarian crisis on this continent, that we emerge from Ramadaan not taking away any lessons on compassion and our responsibilities towards others, eh, particularly those who happen to be dying of starvation in the month of Ramadaan. How can you come away with any conclusion other than one which talks about social responsibilities and justice?
Of course I appreciate that the humanitarian crisis in East Africa has more dimensions than that there is an extreme drought amidst a failed state but those dimensions are themselves a reflection of some moral failure in society at large and in the Muslim ummah in particular – as vicegerents on earth can we say that we are doing okay, we can pat ourselves on the back? Can we say, everything is groovey and we need only preoccupy ourselves with chasing nirvana and feeling good?
To me that’s spiritual materialism and it saddens me to think I didn’t actually miss anything from not going to the eidgah these last two years.