Living in America, you can bet that this holiday does NOT make the nightly news. Well, most Muslim holidays dont… But, even though Muslims all over the world are celebrating this holiday, the Muslims where I live are not. Some may fast on Monday as a remembrance of the Prophet’s birthday and others may have small family get togethers marking the holiday that they grew up celebrating in their own countries, but the mosques are not having a large congregational prayer, the Islamic schools are not organizing celebrations, and facebook is not filled with Eid greetings. So why not here? Are we not also Muslim? We have plenty of Muslims who take part in Christmas celebrations because they appreciate the idea of recognizing the birth of one of the Prophets of Islam. However, we are in a way, forbidden from celebrating the birthday of the Prophet who brought us Islam.
Why forbidden? Well, to understand this you need to understand the theology of the movers and shakers of my community. Sure it changes from region to region, so I’ll try not to overgeneralize. In Houston (where I live and was born and raised), the actively practicing Muslims are pretty conservative. For example, if you celebrate your children’s birthday you are doing something “haram”. If you do not wear hijab you might as well be a “kafir”. These words are filled with negative connotations and they are thrown around like salt and pepper in a red-neck kitchen. (hehe!) The reason behind this is largely cultural however, it effects large numbers of people – young and old. More importantly, the conservatism of the people in power forces the majority to outwardly practice only what the minority want.
Sadly, because of this reality, we are missing out on some very rich Islamic practices. Ones that are allowed by some major theologians around the world – all because a very few people in our community subscribe to a very strict interpretation of Islam and implement it in the mosques and schools. We are not allowed to bring up Sufism or any form of spiritual mysticism and possibly grow in our own understanding of God. We are not supposed to celebrate any holiday except the two major Eids. There are so many restrictions that it would be hard to list them all here. Suffice it to say that most Muslims just withdraw and dont participate at all. Moroccans especially – which makes sense since the culture is so infused with spirituality and somewhat with mysticim.
Following this strict interpretation of Islam is supposed to bring us closer to our Creator and farther away from the tempations of Satan, but in my experience, it only ever made me feel really withdrawn from my family (both American and Moroccan), and very very very judgemental of others. Something that led me down the path that eventually hit a bump in the road… (see previous post – a reality check). So, thankfully, I feel that I am DONE with conservative Islam. I have seen more love, and understanding, and a closer relationship with God from many many more people who do not stick to this hard line. I have seen and been a victim of so much evil behavior and nastiness in people’s hearts, that I am never going back to that place again. I will try more to embody the women of Morocco who are truly spiritual: who pray, all the time, on time and with love and eagerness, not just obligation. I will remember that a piece of cloth does not mean a better Muslim. I will remember that we all fall down, we all sin, we all can become slaves to our own desires, but to remember that we must let those things go and ask for forgiveness is what is wanted of us by our Creator. Recently I posted this on facebook: ”If you don’t have the ability to compete with the pious in righteous deeds, compete with sinners in seeking Allaah’s forgiveness”-Ibn Rajab. Insh’Allah!
So, I’ll leave you with a beautiful nasheed posted by a relative in Morocco as a remembrance of our Prophet on this occasion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDvMbKq9op8&feature=share
and a biography of a beloved Prophet… http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/396226/Muhammad