The wind was blowing softly in the cool night air. The sun was nowhere in sight leaving the city in utter darkness. The streets were silent and not a sound could be heard from anywhere, except from one particular Muslim house.
“Abdullaaaaaaaah!” Aminah called out, loud enough to wake up an entire village. “Get out of the bathroom.”
Ummi was busy putting some last minute touches on breakfast. She had made some delicious food that she knew the family would love. As she served the food in fancy dishes especially for Eid, Aminah came into the kitchen huffing.
“Ummi! Abdullah has been in the shower since the Ice Age,” she complained.
Smiling, Ummi patted her daughter’s head. “He went in just ten minutes ago. What is it that you want?”
“My scarf clip,” Aminah replied. “It matches with my Eid dress. Remember? It’s the sparkly one which my Qur’an teacher gave me as a gift. I left it in the bathroom drawer.”
“How about we be patient for some more time? It’s part of the sunnah to do ghusland be your cleanest and most fresh for Eid. Let Abdullah take his time, there is still time for Eid prayer. Just because Ramadan is over, it doesn’t mean we throw away everything we have learnt about patience.”
Aminah sulked, but nodded. “Yes, Ummi.”
Aminah had learnt a lot of things during the Holy month of Ramadan, things she would remember for a long time. She was sad to see Ramadan end and regretful that she did not do many things which she had wanted to do, but today was EID! A celebration for all Muslims. She could enjoy herself all she wanted.
Abdullah sprayed some ‘itr and wore a brand new thobe that his grandparents bought him when they went to Makkah for ‘Umrah. It was pale white in colour and Abdullah felt full of noor as soon as he wore it. It made him feel light and happy. It was Eid!
By the time Aminah wore the sparkly pin on her headscarf and the entire family got ready to go to the Eid Musallah, the sun had already begun to rise outside, bringing the warmth of colour into the dark sky.
“Wait!” Yusuf called out as Abi unlocked the car. ”We have to eat three dates!”
“For what?” Aminah asked.
“It’s the Prophet’s sunnah, that since we have been fasting all this time, eating an odd number of dates symbolizes that we are not fasting today and instead are feasting.”
“What did Yusuf say? Three dates per person, right? That is five times three which is fifteen dates in total.” Aminah thought out loud as she picked out the dates, washed them and put them in a zip-lock bag. She rushed outside and climbed into the car. As Abi started the engine, Aminah handed out three dates to each person in her family.
“Bismillahir Rahman ir Raheem.” Abdullah said as he placed a date into his mouth.
The car sped off from their house towards open grounds for the Eid Prayer.
“Okay kids,” Ummi said, twisting around from the passenger seat to look at them, “The Eid prayer is two rakaat before the khutbah by the Imam, unlike the Jum’uah prayer on Fridays which has prayer after the sermon.”
“Yeah.” Yusuf said. “The eid prayer has seven takbeeraat at the start of each rakah.”
Abdullah interrupted, “Takbeeraat?”
“You know, when you say ‘Allahu Akbar’ before starting your prayer? That’s onetakbeer. Takbeerat is the plural for the word Takbeer.”
Abi smiled as he made a turn, “There is also another time to say takbeer. Since it is Eid morning we should try and recite thetakbeer that I taught you last night.”
The children began to recite together “Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Illa Allah, Allahu Akbar wa lillahil ‘hamd. Allahu Akbaru Kabeera, wal hamdu lillahi katheera, wa subhanallahi bukratan wa aseela. Allahu Akhbar..”
Abbi parked the car effortlessly. There were many cars parked nearby and because it was sunnah, people were dressed in their best clothes as they rushed towards the open grounds where the Eid prayer was held. The youth who worked there had laid out prayer mats all over and placed a divider in between separating the men and the women. They had set up a small area of sponge mats at the back, with toys so that the little children could play without disturbing their parents.
The family got out of the car and Aminah immediately went with her mother to the ladies section while the boys ran off with their father to the men’s area.
“Assalamu Alaykum Aminah!” A chirpy voice called out from behind her. Aminah turned around to see who it was.
“Khadijah!” Aminah hugged her classmate from the Islamic weekend school. “Eid Mubarak!”
“Eid Mubarak to you too! Mashallah you look amazing!”
Aminah smiled. Khadijah was one of her good friends. She was kind, humble and had memorized a lot of Quran too.
“Let’s sit together!” Aminah said as she linked her arm in her friend’s.
Aminah told Ummi she would be sitting with her friend, so that her mother wouldn’t get worried if she turned around and didn’t find her. The two friends listened attentively to the khutbah. The Imam talked about the sad departure of Ramadan and how Muslims should strive their best to continue their good deeds for the rest of the year too. Then he spoke about the virtues of Eid and how important it was to spend time with family.
Right after the Khutbah, everyone got up and said their salaams to each other and greeted each other with the special words, “Taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum.”When Aminah asked what this meant, Ummi told her it meant, “May Allah accept (our worship) from you and from us.”
Most of the people at Eid prayer knew one another, so the atmosphere buzzed with excitement and joy. This year, there were many new muslims as well who didn’t have muslim families to celebrate their Eid with. The local masjid’s committee decided to host a lunch so that they wouldn’t be lonely, and at the same time the muslim community could also get together during this wonderful occasion.
“Are you coming to the Eid lunch?” Khadijah asked as they reached the parking lot.
“I think so. My cousins really wanted to come.” Aminah replied.
“Alright. See you then! Assalamulaykum. “
“Walaykum Assalaam. Fee Amanillah!” Aminah called out as they headed to their respective cars.
“Who was that?” Yusuf asked Aminah.
“That’s Khadijah. She goes to my Islamic weekend school.”
“Ahh.” Yusuf nodded. “The one you speak to on the phone for hours?”
Aminah rolled her eyes but didn’t answer. Instead Abdullah who wasn’t paying attention to his other siblings’ conversation jumped into his seat.
“We are going to Auntie Nusaybah’s, Right? Riiiiight?”
Ummi laughed. “Yes.”
They arrived shortly at Auntie Nusaybah’s as they lived close to the Eid prayer grounds. Just as Abi parked his car, the front door opened and Hamaad and Hafsah came running out to meet their cousins.
“Eid Mubarak!” they yelled as they ran down the porch.
The children got out of the car and went to meet their eager cousins. “Eid Mubarak to you too!”
“Come in, come in!” Hamaad said and he pulled his cousins inside his house.
Hamaad and Hafsah’s house was decorated with banners with “Eid Mubarak” written on them and lots of colorful balloons.
“Mashallah. Ummi said as soon as she entered the house. “It looks really beautiful Nusaybah.”
Auntie Nusaybah laughed. “Thank you. But it was all the children’s doing. They were so excited for Eid.”
The children really were excited. They had already dragged their cousins upstairs to play a few games. Both Hamaad and Hafsah had different rooms so the boys played in one room while the girls played in the other.
“Lunch is ready!” Ummi called. She and her sister had finished setting up the table while the children were playing. The boys came rushing in first while the girls came in later, chatting noisily.
The table was adorned with lots of delicious food. Since today was Eid, Auntie Nusaybah prepared some warm chocolate muffins to the childrens’ delight. The table also had some traditional dishes which were specially made on eid. The excited children took their places and filled up their plates.
“Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem.” They all said before they ate.
For a few minutes the table was silent as everyone hungrily ate Auntie Nusaybah’s yummy food. It was Aminah who broke the silence.
“Are we going to the Eid lunch held at the masjid today?”
“Yes!” Abdullah replied quickly, “All my friends are going. They said it is going to be fun.”
Ummi and Aunty Nusaybah exchanged glances.
“Then let’s go!” Hammad said.
Aunty Nusaybah pointed her fork at Hamaad’s plate. “First finish what you are eating. Then we will go.”
Hamaad huffed.“I don’t want anymore.”
Aunty Nusaybah simply shrugged. “Okay, then you’re not coming.”
“Why? I want to come.”
She looked at Hamaad sternly. “Hamaad, you must finish what’s on your plate. Don’t waste food, there are so many people in the world right now, today, on Eid who don’t have even a bit of food to eat. We should always think of our fellow brothers and sisters in Islam who are suffering around the world. We should thank Allah for what he has given us and pray for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
Hamaad felt ashamed. He had so much food to celebrate on this wonderful day while there were people who had absolutely nothing. “Thank You Allah for all that you’ve given me.” he said as he finished what was on his plate quietly.
After filling their stomachs with delicious food, the family set off for the Masjid.
“Quickly! Quickly!” Aminah yelled as she pulled Hafsah out of the car. She was so excited to be going to the function.
“Remember children , always stay together and on the grounds of the masjid. No wandering here and there okay?” Abi said.
“Yes!” Came the reply.
“All of you should gather at the gate after Maghrib. I’ll be there to pick you up. Don’t be late.”
Abi smiled. “One last thing.”
“What is it?” Abdullah asked, itching to run off to join his friends.
Abi pulled out his wallet and handed each of them ten pounds. “Eid Mubarak kiddos. Go and enjoy all you want.”
…To be continued!
Written by Maryam Yousuf