As Ramadan ended, we started preparing for Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations, marked by beautiful family gatherings and friends’ gatherings. We hosted our family yesterday, and enjoyed seeing cousins and relatives after the long, long COVID break. As I watched grandkids romping around in the backyard, I felt such gratitude for the peace, the safety and the blessings. My daughter Mona had decorated the inside of the house with Ramadan decorations, which added so much to the feeling of joy. Shahid even carved out one hour for a global Zoom call with dozens of relatives from around the world tuning in to greet and meet virtually! And while we missed some family members who had other important commitments, we had a fantastic day overall and I silently thanked God for the privilege of the month of fasting- Ramadan- to starve my body but nourish my soul, as Baba Yurdaer likes to say.
Today, about 50 friends gathered in a park to celebrate Eid. The event had been carefully planned by an amazing Eid Committee, including Zahid and Rubina Hasan, Shireen and Zafar Jamil, Shahid, Tehmina, and many others. We were blessed with the most amazing weather, entertained by the sweet voice of Fauzia’s songs, and enjoyed fresh kebabs and naans from a tandoori oven right in the park! Everyone enjoyed the food, the games, the entertainment in a most beautiful park setting, and was grateful for the relaxation of COVID rules, grateful for the vaccination progress that allowed us to mix freely, and grateful to be able to celebrate our culture and faith with each other in such a beautiful manner.
However, as joyous as our Eid celebrations are and should be, they were marred by utter sadness as the asymmetric conflict in the Middle East flared up, provoked by a leader trying to win an election- missiles continue to fall on civilian targets killing dozens of innocents every day; in Afghanistan, a school’s bombing left 85 young schoolgirls dead. The list could go on and on and how easy it is to get utterly sad, depressed and even angry at the injustice in our planet today.
I was watching a Ramadan webinar by Omid Safi (https://onbeing.org/author/omid-safi/ )- a renowned Sufi scholar, who reminded us that when Rumi was alive in the 13 century, the Muslim world was being ransacked by the Mongols from the East and the Crusaders from the West, leading to utter devastation and despair and “rivers of blood”. And what was Rumi’s response? It was love, love, love. And so, as we see the chaos and despair around us, I remind myself of Rumi’s message. We have to keep blowing on the candle of hope lest it gets extinguished. We have no other choice. Leading one of the last late-night prayers during Ramadan, our shaikh Yurdaer Baba prayed to God to “turn the hearts of the oppressors away from evil to do good”. May we all focus on doing good until the hearts of the evil doers turn, Ameen.