It’s Eid! A very warm Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim and non-Muslim friends on this beautiful day. This is the time of year when millions of Muslims flock to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina and millions more celebrate with their brothers and sisters in Islam all over the world. It is the time of year we’re meant to be even more compassionate and charitable and distribute food and money to the poor and impoverished. We buy new clothes, give presents and pray with the community.
This Eid, I’m sitting looking out at a rainy suburban street, 99.2 miles away from my mum and dad and many thousands more away from my family and my sun scorched land. If you over-think it, it’s a pretty grim state of affairs. These ISIS loonies are reducing my home to a childhood memory, these Zionists are bulldozing and blockading land which is illegal any way you look at it, and these Western governments are aiding and abetting all manner of sins in my name. If I was a glass half empty kind of a girl I wouldn’t want to get out of bed, I’d put on a Hugh Grant movie and eat bread and Za’atar to wash and wish it all away.
But today I awoke an optimist. Eid al-Adha is the Eid of sacrifice, and today I pray for all the people who make sacrifices no matter how big or small: for unity, for equality, for peace and most of all, for justice. From women wearing headscarves in Australia to show support for their sisters to Naomi Wolf, the wonderful (Jewish) writer who visited the NYU Islamic Center on the eve of Yom Kippur. Indeed as Yom Kippur coincides with Eid for the first time in over 30 years, ironically coming at what some are calling the ‘third intifada‘ (after the slaughter in Gaza and the terror in the West Bank), it is easy to forget how much the two religions share. Of her experience, Wolf wrote: ‘we were simply – together, listening and talking and thinking. And – I can’t explain it – there was this extraordinary stillness and tenderness in the room… a spiritual presence of tenderness that was bigger than any of us, that was embracing us because we were willing to truly meet one another…Just truth, and just kindness was in the room, from every direction.’
It is no small feat to confront bigotry and racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The world is rapidly being polarised and days like today ask us to check in and reconsider why we make ourselves so different and so divided. As Palestinians under fifty are prohibited from entering the Holy Al-Aqsa mosque – Islam’s third holiest site – in Jersualem and Alan Henning, the inspirational British Aid worker is slaughtered by ISIS our holiest day, it is easy to only see things as hate-filled. But, hard as it is to believe, if bad actions take a step back, then good ones should take two forward and there are seeds of hope throughout. Whether you’re a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, or any other religion or someone with no religion… try. Be that change you want to see in the world. Make a sacrifice to better yourselves and others. Life is short so why waste it on ignorance?
Today I’m going to be glass half full kinda gal and extend my hand for peace.
Eid Mubarak and G’Mar and Chatimah Tova!
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