It’s Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas?

December 29, 2007

I’m one of those people that likes to decorate for ‘Eid.

I started off with just lights, but this year I wanted to up the festive factor around here.  So I decorated the mantle.  I draped black satin on it and placed amber/gold mosaic candles, a clear footed bowl with pinecones and amber floral pebbles.  I put a glass vase with silk eucalyptus, gold glitter berry stems and a white accent in the center.  To top it all off, I placed gold glitter letters spelling “EID” on one side.

We’ve had some visitors.  Some people like the arrangement, but one person saw it and said, “Oh, we are celebrating Christmas now.”  He wasn’t trying to be rude, his sense of humor is just a little dry sometimes. 

But his statement brings up an important issue:  How do American muslims celebrate Eid?  And how should we?  (The man who made the comment is not american.) Muslims from muslim-majority countries have the luxury of not having many of their practices questioned.  There is not alot of drama surrounding how they celebrate their holidays, weddings, etc.  And there isn’t for American muslims either, so long as we adopt the practices of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, for example.  Should we decide to hold to some of our own traditions, we have to expect comments or downright opposition.

I’m American.  On major holidays, my black american ancestors roasted turkeys, made cornbread stuffing, green beans, hams, roast beef, and mashed potatoes.  Since I am muslim naturally I don’t eat ham.  However I may roast up a turkey or serve roast beef with au jus.  I do not have to eat kebabs and samosas on eid.  By the same token, I will hang up party lights, and decorate mantles, tables,  shelves, and other flat surfaces with candles and greenery if I wanna.

Now, don’t misunderstand.  There were no spruce wreaths, evergreen garlands, or poinsettias.  I do not have lighted reindeer on my lawn, there is no “Eid Tree”, and I did not hang up any stockings by the fireplace with care.  I have not warned my children to be good lest Sayed Claus substitute coal for presents.

With the american muslim community still somewhat young, this is one of the many issues we have to navigate.  I remember a sister starting to “explain” the fact that her daughter had a red dress one ‘Eid.  I imagine she either expected comments or had gotten them already.  I cut her off and told her it was a pretty dress, and that just because red is associated with Christmas it does not mean that we are barred from wearing it on ‘Eid.  But then, it was a—*gasp*—western-style dress.  I’m sure if it was a red shalwar khameez or a traditional arabian dress with lovely beadwork, it would not have occurred to her to defend it or anyone else to question it.  I know I’ve seen my share of red shalwar kameez on ‘Eid over the years.

American muslims, in my humble opinion, need not adopt the cultural practices of others to be “real” muslims.  We must leave behind anything that conflicts with Islam, but we are free to keep the rest.  As I was tellling my husband the other day, Did the Arabs of the prophet’s –sallalahualaihiwasalaam- time, upon their conversion, completely change their cultural practices?  Did they say, “Oh no! We used to eat such and such when we were unbelievers, we must invent all new dishes to celebrate ‘Eid!  We must change our style of shoes!  All jewelry must be melted down and redesigned!”  If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say no.  They left their old religion behind, but they did not throw out their entire culture.

American muslims get to keep some of their culture too.


5 Responses to “It’s Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas?”

  1. y Says:

    My mom used to spruce up and put up decorations around eid but its kinda fallen by the wayside. But today I had an idea to send out family pictures around eid kinda like people send out holiday pics of their families around eid.

  2. Salaam Alaikum,

    Sayed Claus – lol!

    I think it’s important to make Eid special – They are our two days of celebration after all and decorations are how we celebrate in the west.

  3. Cozy Sister Says:

    The black and gold theme is a good idea for Eid decorating. I’ll have to borrow that next year if you don’ mind:-)

  4. Peace be upon you,
    I feel ya! Much to be discussed on the subject you highlight in this frank post. Please treat your mind and spirit to the excellent articles by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah on this issue…

    “Islam & the Cultural Imperative”
    “Innovation & Creativity in Islam”
    “Living Islam With Purpose”

    Thanks for your feedback on my homepage. I hope to read through some of your other intriguingly-titled posts.
    May Allah bless us in the unique talents that He has given us to do something beautiful and effective for His remembrance and glorification!

    tawfiq inshallah,
    Aaron Haroon Sellars

  5. Titilayo Says:

    I feel u sister. I stay in nigeria and have been wondering how to make my kids feel special for eid. I almost gave up buying decors because it reminded u of christmas but i love your way of thinking. will still check other opinions tho.


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