Monday, January 09, 2006
  Eid Mubarak!
Well, the kitchen is a wreck. My house smells like some odd herbal tea. And there's a pile of presents sitting on the couch of all places.

That's what a henna party will do to you. *grin*

Twice a year -- for Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha -- we have a henna sleepover party the night before Eid. This usually includes a variety of my kid's friends -- Muslim and non-Muslim -- of various ages. Since Eid falls on a school day this time around, the crowd was a bit more limited than it has been in the past, but we still had a kitchen full of girls. Pizza, chips, soda, candy, a movie (actually one for the bigger kids and another for the younger set), and a lot of laughter, plus several hours of painting designs on hands, feet, wrists, anlkles, arms, legs, bellies, wherever we feel like it! Years ago, I had to do all the painting. Now, the kids are way better than I ever was, so they take turns making designs for each other and for me.

Tomorrow we'll get up pretty much the same time we always do, get dressed in fancy clothes and head to the masjid (the mosque). There's a chant - La Baik Allahuma, La baik - At your service, Oh God, at your service - that we sing. And also another one that is more musical, praising Allah, and calling for blessings on the Prophet and his companions, wives, descendants. This is always especially meaningful to me as my husband and my kids are descendants of Prophet Muhammad, so I'm asking very directly for God's blessings on them, something that's near and dear to my heart.

At the masjid there will be more chanting/singing, special prayers that are similar to the daily salaat, but different enough to make it feel unique, and then a sermon. Hopefully a good one! Afterwards there will be breakfast in the multipurpose hall, plus candy and balloons for kids. We usually try to take it easy on the food, because we always go out for lunch for Eid. In Ramadan, this is a bit more significant, after all we've been fasting a whole month, lunch suddenly takes on a new importance. For Eid ul Adha it isn't as significant, but I try to think of the other ritual that happens during Eid -- the sacrifice of a lamb, a goat or a cow to commemorate the sacrifice of Ismail by Abraham and his being replaced by a ram by Allah. We usually have our sacrifice done overseas in a country where people desperately need the food, so we don't have much personal participation in that. But as you break bread together, it's a good thing to remind oneself about.

After lunch we'll open presents. I know a lot of families do the presents first thing in the morning, but we've always had it after the prayers. It seems appropriate -- Eid is about worship, about celebrating God's blessings and His generosity in our lives, about acknowledging His care and guidance, and for celebrating our own efforts to reach out to God, to please God.

One of the things that I have always loved about the Eids is that they are celebrations of the acts of today's believers -- a celebration of the community's fasting and pilgrimage. Hajj commemorates many acts that took place in the past -- the striving of Hajr, the determination of Abraham and Ismail (and yes, in the Islamic stories it is Ismail, not Issac who agrees to be sacrificed), the turning away from evil -- but the commemoration of these acts is not passive -- it is active - the pilgrims run between the hills of Safa and Marwa as Hajr did, they pray upon the Mount of Arafat as Muhammad did, and sacrifice a lamb as did Abraham. They throw stones at the pillars of Shaitan, symbolizing their personal commitment to turn away from evil and temptation. Thus Eid is not just a commemoration of historic deeds, but also a celebration of the deeds of the Hajjis. To me this is so life affirming, so redolent of Islam's message that people are good, people are beautiful and worth celebrating. I love that feeling proud of one's accomplishments is not only acceptable, but even mandatory! What a profound acknowledgement of the joy of being alive, of being blessed with the abilty to do good and to worship!

In the evening, we are going to a friend's house to have a pitch-in dinner with our Qur'an study group members. I'm sure there will be great fellowship, with lots of laughter and serious discussion as well.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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