free stats Carmen's Web: September 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Celebrating Eid in New York
My brother called me ten minutes before iftar last night to wish me a happy Eid. I thought he was messing with me. Yesterday was the 29th day of Ramadan and for the past four years we've always fasted 30 days no matter how much we wished and prayed for 29. Yes, I know...if one has fasted for an entire month one extra day doesn't really make a difference. But it's always nice when Eid sneaks up on you.

Of course it was not going to be easy declaring that Eid was today. New York City and Long Island claimed they had seen the moon while the Islamic Society of North America insisted that Eid was October 1st. This caused problems in my hood with my neighbor maintaining that she was going to fast one more day. It took us a while to convince her otherwise. For the past 20 years we have followed the 96th Street mosque and its sightings. Why, this year, was she going to follow another institution? We finally got her to relent when we told her that we'd wake up early and go pray Eid prayers at the mosque, thus making it Eid officially.

I got lucky this year with Eid coinciding with Rosh Hashana, giving me two glorious days off work in the middle of the week. I woke up early and went home to pick up my mother, my aunt, neighbor, and the kids to go to the 96th Street mosque. It was the kids' first time to go and they were very excited.

It felt like Eid when we drove up to the mosque. You could hear Quran recited through the speakers, Muslims of all shapes and sizes walking in and out, children running across the lawn. Activists were there making sure people were registered to vote and the police were wishing everyone a happy feast. It was lovely.

I've detached myself from the Muslim community for years now because I simply found it too difficult to conform. It was easier (and less aggravating) to practice my faith alone but it's contributed to a growing feeling of isolation that, with time, has left me entirely dissatisfied. I try to do what I can do to form connections and what better way to do this than spend Eid with friends and family.

I was hoping that we all (men and women) would be able to pray Eid prayers together, in one room and was pleasantly surprised when we were allowed to walk in through the front doors. But once inside it was clear that we were to go down the stairs to the ladies' quarters. It was clean and beautiful and they even had TV screens up for us, but the forced segregation was a reminder of why I feel estranged from this community.

We prayed our prayers and went on to eat, play, and laugh for the rest of the day. It was a wonderful Eid.

Happy Eid (and Rosh Hashana) to all who are celebrating!
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 5:54 PM
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Who: Carmen

xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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