eid

Happy Eid everyone! Wishing you all a blessed and joyous holiday. May all of our good deeds and actions be accepted and here’s hoping for a bright and happy future insha’Allah.

eid

Yesterday we prayed at my favourite Mississauga mosque, the Sayeda Khadija Centre — where Imam Slimi gave the BEST ‘Edi khutbah I have ever heard.

He spent a brief 20 minutes not focusing on the importance of keeping the Qur’an in our daily lives, or vaguely mentioning that we should continue coming to the mosque in record numbers, or <insert stock Eid khutbah topic here> — but instead gave practical advice and reflections. Like the importance of civic engagement and improving our condition by focusing on positive stories. To not always dwell on images of war or become disheartened at clear media biases toward Muslims. But instead to focus on promoting the Muslim Champions who work and succeed in society. To raise our children to know that they can become Prime Minister if they want to and that they can make a difference.

He also focused on the issue of mental health and strongly encouraged people who were struggling with illness to obtain the help they need — whether it’s counseling or medication. In all of my years, I have never heard a community leader say so many encouraging things about mental heath. Normally, we’re told that depression is a sign of a diseased heart and that one should read more Qur’an, perform more dhikr, or self medicate with rituals to expel Jinn-causing-illnesses to “get over it.” So it was incredibly refreshing to hear someone acknowledge problems within the Muslim community and validate the experience of those who deal with mental illness.

It was an impressive talk and it has been an extremely long time since a khutbah made me smile with pride for my community.

locked

After lunch, a gift exchange for the girls, afternoon tea, and a trip to the ice cream shop, Eryn got dressed in her mermaid outfit and we went to the local musallah for ‘Asr. Unfortunately, the women’s section was locked — hopefully just an oversight *cough* — and I had to wait for the Hubby to break down the barrier on the men’s side and unlock the door.

Overall, it was a lovely ‘Eid and I’m actually looking forward to making up my missed fasts over the next month insha’Allah. Hope your ‘Eid was also filled with warmth, fun, family, and mermaids.

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Sorry I’ve been a little absent from the blog. Eiding with a huge family means lots of obligations and we’re now gearing up to travel back home. TONIGHT.

But I was able to share some of my ‘Eid reflections over at Muslimah Media Watch in a small (and awesome) roundtable looking at ‘Eid celebrations and gender in four countries. I’m cross-posting my exert here as well.

Prayers for everyone as we fly over the Atlantic and things will be back on a regular posting schedule once we’re over the jet lag.

Enjoy and a belated very Merry Eid Mubarak!


Praying evening prayers in the mosque just before the 'Eid announcement was made. The ladies gobbled up Eryn and Ivy.

Evening prayers in the mosque just before the ‘Eid announcement. The ladies gobbled up Eryn and Ivy.

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.

Admiring the henna.

Admiring the henna.

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.

The view beyond the tarp.

Peeka-boo!

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.

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak!

On a Tuesday, I know.

I saw them from across the crowded room: white, succulent, fluffy, sweet, melty goodness. Beating back a crowd of women decked out in their ‘Eid finest I grabbed two bags and squealed in delight — mouthing my two favourite words to Eryn. Marshmallows. Halaal.

Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately, finding halal marshmallows was probably one of the few highlights of our ‘Eid.

Babies make great covert props.

Other highlights included getting fantastic parking, having an excellent breakfast and jumping on a few bouncy castles. But outside of making it a fun day for the kiddies, it was a status-quo Eid with a generic khutbah, and the same old oh-geeze-I-have-to-sit-at-the-back-and-listen-to-some-man-tell-me-that-my-non-existent-8-year-old-son-should-lead-me-in-prayer-when-my-husband-is-out-at-the-mosque.

True story. You can read more about our Eid celebration here.

Not a vampire princess. With these teeth Eryn insists she’s a princess of the paper bag variety.

After some henna and putting Eryn’s enthusiasm for repetition to good use with three days of repeating the takbeerat every chance we got, it was time for a little Halloween fun.

Now THIS is a veil I could wear every day.

We always dress up for Halloween (or for just a little cosplay) and stage a faux Glamour Shot portrait session. But this year was a special treat for me. You see, I’ve been collecting steampunk-inspired clothing for the day I could pull off an authentic look — and this Halloween was the perfect occasion.

Seriously, I think steampunk makes the wearer look just a little more fabulous.

Now all I need to do is join the local Steampunk Appreciation Society to get away with wearing these clothes at least once a month. *wink*

I’ve also already gone through one bag of marshmallows. By myself.

It’s nearly midnight on the first day of ‘Eid here in Kuwait and I haven’t slept in over 24 hours. So enjoy some of this lazy photoblogging!

'Eid started with an announcement at the mosque and a round of balloons, music, dancing and henna at home.

I decided to stay up all night, since the morning prayer is at 4am and the ‘Eid prayer starts at 5:39. It’s so not like Canada or the US where you have the option of attending the 7am, 8am, 9am or 11am ‘Eid prayers.

We decided to pray outside as it’s a prophetic practice that many mosques here follow. It’s absolutely lovely weather at 5am. But the second the sun breaks, temperatures soar right up to the high 40’s.

Naturally, the men's section is open. The woman's section is hidden by a tarp barrier. We came early and had the front row... which doesn't really make for an interesting view.

There’s no “field” to pray in per se. Kuwait is a desert. So we prayed on tarp and carpet that was put down over a gravel clearing in a residential area.

Here’s a short video of the takbirat with a lovely view of Eryn and the tarp:

There were thousands of people all coming together to join in this special prayer. Honestly, it was amazing praying outside in the morning heat, watching flocks of birds take advantage of the dawn and just a wonderful feeling being so close to so many people who were all in a celebratory mood. Unifying.

Women greet each other with hugs, kisses and a happy 'Eid Mubarak after the end of prayers.

This ‘Eid is a little toned down due to some family concerns — so after prayers we had breakfast with family and literally just hung out all day visiting a few close friends. It was simple and wonderful and definitely has advantages over going back to the office and spending ‘Eid commuting to and from work.

Eryn's lovely 'Eid outfit that I picked up at this year's Muslimfest!

While I’m going to miss the sweetness and joys of Ramadan, it’s also my pleasure to say Happy ‘Eid everyone!

Again we went to the Muslim Association of Canada‘s yearly ‘Eid event at the Canadian National Exhibition.  20,000 Muslims, one room, rides, food, bazaar, animals, movies and lots and lots of fun!

Muslims gathered in the main hall. (more…)

They are armed with a handful of obscure Hadith and Qur’anic verses. They are loud and pushy. They speak with authority. They rain down judgment. And they are sincere with their advice, even if they’re power tripping.

Every mosque administration has an unofficial volunteer on board, policing the congregation, offering suggestions for ultra-pious living and worship, announcing the “correct” way to do just about everything.

Often times this secret police is an unwanted hazard. As Muslims, we are enjoined by God to think critically, to question our spiritual leaders and to right wrongs when we see them. This occasionally invites a special breed of person to walk into a congregation and start ordering people about. While they are truly sincere about the knowledge and opinions they spread, they unfortunately come across as being pushy, opinionated, no fun, nay-saying Grinches.

My favourite example is the prayer police. This brand of secret police will literally march up and down the prayer lines during the prayer, to correct perceived wrongs (never mind that their own prayers are delayed… correcting others is a higher duty to God for this SS). No matter the location, the prayer police will interrupt your prayer by telling you that your clothes are wrong, wear a skirt over your jeans, your hands are in the wrong placement, your hijab must cover your chin, wear socks, you must stand foot-to-foot with the people next to you, your objections are wrong, you are an affront to how Islam should be practiced and that any violation will result in your prayer being invalid.

Woah. Heavy.

I normally don’t get involved with the secret police. It’s just not worth my time to discuss how I worship with someone who will refuse to hear my points of discussion. Years ago, I would enter into heated debates and stand my ground.  But after realizing that the police are judge, jury and executioner, and that no amount of theological debate will change their mind (especially for a convert who “couldn’t possibly know all of the subtle, nit-picky rules of worship” despite her masters degree in Islamic law and history), I decided to simply acquiesce.

Now when offered correction, I’ll just say thank you and smile. That seems to work. The police will feel sated that their correction has been accepted (whether or not it actually has) and they’ll move on to the next victim.

Except for this past ‘Eid.

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Well I survived the weekend (kind of).

We started the ‘Eid celebration by eating our first daylight breakfast in a month. I made a huge pot of sweet seviyan — vermicelli cooked with butter, sugar, milk, condensed milk and cardamon. After getting dressed in our finest, we went to the CNE and prayed with about 10,000 people. Needless to say, it was pandemonium. We then met up with a few friends and went for second breakfast!  Lebanese shawarma (roasted meat), cheese fatayer (a lovely, salty cheese that tastes like butter — melted over a thick pita), and kunafa (er, how do I describe it? a toasty top, melty cheese bottom, soaked in a sugar syrup. SO GOOD).

Next up was the regular Friday congregational prayers at the Turkish mosque (where I had an altercation with a gentleman who thought it best that the women prayed in a separate room — coming soon to a post near you), a well deserved nap at home, then another party for dinner, pizza for second dinner and waffles for dessert.

You might begin to wonder at the amount of food Muslims eat during the ‘Eid celebration, considering we just spent a month fasting to remind us of God and the less fortunate. You’re not supposed to lose weight during Ramadan, just like you’re not supposed to pig out once it’s over. Suffice it to say that I find it difficult to eat a lot after fasting. Not only does it feel strange to be be eating during the day, but the stomach shrinks, your metabolism is slowed, and really, there are too many people to meet and party with to do so with a full mouth. For the next three days, we are also reminded to spend time after the 5 daily prayers to remember God, by chanting God’s name and other remembrances (heard in the video link above). ‘Eid is also a time for charity and we are all encouraged to give, and then to give some more.

Finally, Eryn is sleeping better now that I’m not fasting. She’s back on her regular schedule, thank God.

Some pics after the cut.

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