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Eid: A Time of Worship or Partying?

Eid: A Time of Worship or Partying? As Ramadhan begins, Muslims all over the world prepare themselves for a month of fasting and worship. Truly this month is filled with blessings from our Lord, who has granted us thirty days of limitless potential in which to please him. In Ramadhan, the gates of Jannah are wide open and Shaitan is imprisoned. In its holy nights, we will tend prayer, partake in iftar feasts and attend Islamic lectures. However, I would like us to cast our mind thirty days ahead, so as to ask ourselves what will happen after this month has concluded? Is the religiosity of Ramadhan immediately forgotten once the holy month comes to an end? And the good deeds and blessings gathered during that month are washed away as people revert to their merry old ways of seeking a life of pleasure and resuming a life of “freedom”?

As Ramadhan begins, Muslims all over the world prepare themselves for a month
of fasting and worship. Truly this month is filled with blessings from our Lord,
who has granted us thirty days of limitless potential in which to please him. In
Ramadhan, the gates of Jannah are wide open and Shaitan is imprisoned. Fasting
is amongst the most of beloved acts to Allah (SWT). Indeed it is an obligation
upon all believing men and women in this month, and it is a means of seeking
nearness to Al-Kareem. As He (swt) says Surah al-Baqarah of the Qur’an:

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those
before you so that you may become al-muttaqoon (pious)" [Holy Qur’an, 2:183]

In the nights to come, we will tend prayer, partake in iftar feasts and attend
Islamic lectures. However, I would like us to cast our mind thirty days ahead,
so as to ask ourselves what will happen after this month has concluded? For just
as surely as the youth spend the nights of Ramadhan in worship, on Eid they
spend the night out in town, partying and playing loud music. Should you have
had the opportunity to visit Southall on Eid, you may have seen them driving up
and down the broadway in flashy cars, waving flags and blasting out the latest
rhythms from a subwoofer installed in their boot. The religiosity of Ramadhan is
immediately forgotten, whilst the good deeds and blessings of gathered during
that month are washed away as people revert to their merry old ways of seeking a
life of pleasure and resuming a life of freedom.

We must ask ourselves, why is it that we only remember Islam during the sacred
months of Ramadhan and Muharram, and during special occasions such as Hajj; but
neglect our faith for the rest of the year? For thirty days the masjid is
overflowing with worshippers, but just as the month is over, the Qur’an sits
gathering dust on the shelves whilst the congregation for Maghrib prayers
reduces to a single row. Our mentality seems to be that we separate our lives
into the compartments of ‘worldly matters’ and ‘spiritual affairs’. Ramadhan is
a ‘spiritual’ time when we must concern ourselves with God, worship and the
afterlife. On the other hand, we leave our Islam in the masjid or on the
bookshelf when we are faced with a ‘worldly’ issue.

This attitude is deeply rooted in the secular Western lifestyle. In the West
today, we are told that Religion and State (God and Reality) are two separate
entities and completely unrelated to one another. Capitalism promotes a shallow,
materialistic view of life, which is completely detached from what came before
it, or what shall follow it. From a young age, people in the West are encouraged
to believe that the purpose of their existence is to have fun and follow their
desires. Society instills values such as utilitarianism and individualism in
human beings, driving them to pursue material success, sensual gratification;
and not to ask important questions about their existence. In today’s world, God
and religion have been attributed an almost mythical quality. As a result,
people freely obey their animal instincts. One only needs to look at health and
crime figures, at the number of alcohol related incidents, the spiraling rate of
teenage pregnancies and the prevalence of drug culture to realise that this
attitude is not healthy for an individual, nor for society as a whole.

The Prophet (SAW) described this world as a "…prison for the believer and a
paradise for the disbeliever." Since, for a materialist who does not believe in
God or the hereafter, this world is as good as it gets for him. On the contrary,
for the believer who has firm faith in his heart that there is a God and an
afterlife, will recognise this world as the lowest existence, unlike the
materialist, who lives only for worldly pleasure. When we consider our
existence, we must understand that this world is transitory and temporal and
that the pleasures of this life are nothing compared to the rewards of the
afterlife.

The Prophet (SAW) once compared the two beautifully when he said "The wealth of
this world (dunya) is like a drop of water on the head of a pin, compared to the
vast oceans of the hereafter." Islam was sent to us as a mercy, to guide us and
ensure that we were amongst the successful people in this life and on the day of
judgement. This world is a test for a believer who is going to heaven, while it
is an all-day and all-night rave for a disbeliever who is going to hell.

So while the West ‘lives life to the max’ and indulges in the pursuit of
pleasure, we must remind ourselves of the day of judgement. When Allah (SWT)
will lift us from our graves and ask us what we did with the life that he gave
us. Amir ul-Mumineen (AS) said: "No one shall move on the day of resurrection
until he is questioned about what he has done during his life, what he has used
his youth for, how he has used his knowledge, and how he has obtained his wealth
and spent it".

It is obvious that Allah (SWT) will not merely judge us on our behaviour during
one month of the year but on our deeds throughout our entire lifetime. Clearly
Islam has its own values, principles and ideas. It calls upon us to recognise
that there is indeed a Creator, and that He has sent down guidance to us. The
Islamic viewpoint on life is comprehensive; taking into full account man, this
world, and the hereafter, thus providing him with correct and reasonable answers
to his most important questions. Consequently, how is it possible that we can
neglect Islam once Ramadhan has passed and yet call ourselves Muslimeen – people
who submit to the will of God. Our Creator, the Lord of the Universe, said in
the Qur’an:

"And whoever seeks a [way of life] other than Islam, it will never be accepted
from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers" [Holy Qur’an, 3:
85]

Our attitude towards Islam must remain consistent throughout the year. While it
is true that in the blessed thirty days of Ramadhan our good deeds are
multiplied, they will mean nothing if the other three hundred and twenty days of
the year are not met with the same devotion to Allah (SWT). We must reject the
secular notion of ‘matter’ and ‘spirit’ being disconnected and realise that
every day brings with it new opportunities for us to please our Creator.The
pleasure of Allah (SWT) is not merely through acts of religious worship, but
also through good conduct. It is not sufficient to pray, fast and give charity,
if you do not embody the Islamic personality. There is a famous hadith on this
subject, narrated by Ibn Abbas (RA) when a man approached the Prophet (SAW) and
complained "O Prophet of God, there is a woman who spends the entire day
fasting, and the entire night in prayer, but she is rude and troubles her
neighbours" to which the Prophet (SAW) replied: "There is no good in this woman
of whom you speak, and her place is in the hellfire". The piety of a believer is
reflected not only by his devotion to religious worship, but also by his or her
actions and behaviour in everyday life. Thus, if we truly desire a place amongst
the followers of the Ahlul-Bayt (AS), we would do well to heed Imam as-Sadiq’s
(AS) advice when he (as) advised, "Behave so that you are ornaments to us, and
do not shame us. Tell people of goodness and guard your tongue; hold it from
excessive talk and offensive speech".

Ramadhan and Eid ul-Fitr are not merely religious rituals that provide us with
an excuse to enjoy ourselves. They embody important values and by participating
in them we should be seeking to please our Creator, attain nearness to Him and
guarantee ourselves a place in the Hereafter. Thus, Eid must not merely mark the
‘end’ of Ramadhan. Rather, it should be the pinnacle of the month; a day when we
exemplify the Islamic character and Islamic values that we have spent the past
thirty days focused upon. It is a day of charity, because we distribute gifts to
the poor and needy. It is a day of remembrance and unity since we remember Allah
(SWT) when we offer our prayers standing together in the Masjid. Most of all,
Eid is a day of victory as we have triumphed over Satan and succeeded in
subduing our desires as well as purifying ourselves. Indeed, this is a victory
that we should not abandon, for the Prophet (SAW) said, "The wise one is he who
disciplined himself and worked for what is after death, while the foolish one is
he who followed his desires and then made (vain) prayers to Allah"

May Allah (SWT), the most High, the most Merciful, grant us the full blessings
of this sacred month and help us to live by Islam and exemplify the teachings of
the Prophet (SAW) and the Ahlul-Bayt (AS) through our every day lives.

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