The Islamic Garden
Muslim Families Celebrating
`Eid in London, 2009
Generally `Eid in London is what you make it. Muslim families usually attend the `Eid prayer, then return home to enjoy a tasty breakfast, visit friends and relatives, and buy gifts for the children. As many Muslim families come from Arab and Asian backgrounds they spend this special time with the larger extended family. Moreover, the Muslim community is usually divided over which day `Eid should be celebrated. This year, however, was a unique `Eid celebration as families from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and all walks of life gathered in Kingsbury, London to celebrate `Eid on the same day.
1 Eid is a unique venture organized by Muslims for Muslims and set up by Al-Fitrah. Organizers, themselves from a variety of ethnic backgrounds including Jamaican, English, Afghan, and Moroccan, are trying to gather all the Muslims together on one day at one place. Wealthier Muslims donate money and organizers have been fundraising for months to pay for the site and rides for the children so that everyone can have a nice day. This year, `Eid falls on a Sunday, so being the weekend, means families can gather and relax as it is not a working day.
Between 15,000 and 20,000 Muslims, male and female, young and old, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and all walks of life gathered together, prayed together, and spent an amazingly happy time with friends and family at an outside event.
One organizer, Bradley Craigie-Williams, said that the main goal of the event is to bring families together and revive the Sunnah regarding `Eid Prayer. He commented, “When `Eid is held in respective masjids there are different opinions about when it should be.” By having one steering committee, one decision was made about timing and most Muslims prayed together on the same day. This is quite an achievement. Another important goal of the event was to ensure that women would be able to participate in the `Eid Prayer and that children would have a memorable time celebrating with family and friends.
Apart from a variety of ethnic food, rides for the children, and stalls, organizers are using the dawah potential of having such a large gathering of Muslims. Williams added, “We need to be united so we can have a positive impact.”
A British revert sitting with her family enjoying a hearty breakfast commented, “This `Eid event was better because the khutbah was in English and we could understand what the imam was saying.” Teenagers agreed that this `Eid is more exciting and that at school teachers and students were aware that it was the Muslim `Eid this weekend and wished them a great time. Even non-Muslims living in the area where the event was held were happy that the Muslims were doing this and many attended. A teenage girl wearing hijab and having fun with her friends commented, “The food is great! The people are friendly! And, the rides are fun!”
A number of families commented that during `Eid, the men usually go to the prayer at the local masjid while the women stay home and cook, and then the family gets together. However, this year, things are different and people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds are mingling and enjoying their time together. One Albanian man said, “If you just go to the local masjid and then go home, you don’t really feel like you are celebrating.”
Fundraising continues as plans are already underway so that `Eid celebrations will happen throughout London simultaneously, thus, bringing unity to one of the most diverse communities in the world.
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