Women wait for the call to eid prayer in Boston (September 2010)
The last time I spent Eid-ul-Fitr in Islamabad was in 2008. I don’t seem to remember much about that day except for ami’s amazing saviyaan, and getting ready early morning for 2-rakat of eid namaz. I remember chaand raat in Jinnah Super as abu did his last minute eid shopping, and I remember being happy. Now four years later, a steel pot of milk and sugar is still condensing into saviyaan, and I’m up early in the morning but not to get ready.
In my last eids away from home. I was a little nostalgic for eid in Pakistan, and missing my family. I celebrated with friends and for the first time in my life, got up early for the eid prayer at the local masjids. In Pakistan, I never really visit the mosque, because it’s unconsciously a male thing. Maybe it’s just my family, but all the women just say their eid prayers at home while the men of the house visit the mosque. It has probably something to do with the fact that we’re more comfortable at home. But right now as my dad, uncles and cousins just left for eid namaz in starched shalwar kameez, I’m a little nostalgic for Boston’s Islamic Center. The beauty of that as it’s the biggest one in Boston, you see Muslims from all races, colors and sects congregated for prayer. You hear so many different languages being spoken and see all outfits, from colorful sarongs and saris to delicately embroidered abayas. Salams and smiles are exchanged, and you see community representation from little kids to the elderly. It’s a good feeling as you see that Islam isn’t the monolithic belief system you thought it was.
This year, Islamabad’s lovely as ever and there’s a faint petrichor scent in the air because it just rained. I’m with family, and there’s no comparison to delicious Pakistani food. But I wish we could have more of a sense of community, and that the mosques become friendly places of worship. I wish that the atmosphere wasn’t fraught with tension, and that eid day wasn’t synonymous to red-alert security. Last night there was news of mobile phone services being suspended for eid security. Most of all, I wish that we could be inclusive of different muslims and non-muslims and celebrate without isolating our Pakistani brother and sisters. Eid is supposed to be a time of joy and giving for all.