Eid as a Convert: Reflections

Salaam alaikum everyone.

We are almost there—Ramadan is nearly over and Eid is nearly here!

As a convert, I have to say I have a lot of mixed emotions about Eid. For the most part it doesn’t really feel like a holiday to me yet. I am so used to my family traditions surrounding American holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, that I am still trying to adapt myself to the two Eids as my main holidays now. Plus only being a Muslim since 2014 and living with my husband only in the past year or so, we haven’t quite had time to forge our own traditions.

I remember my first Eid, my good friend let me in on all of her Eid traditions. She picked me up to go pray with her, and we stuck around after the prayers for some yummy sweets and chatting with friends. Then she took me along to her traditional family brunch with her son, his wife and their son, and her brother (eek, I’m such an intruder!). We shared some eggs, and went to the candy store that they always go to while I Skyped my husband.

Then she and I headed over to visit her daughter-in-law’s family (who were super nice and only slightly confused as to what some random convert girl was doing on their sofa), and then headed over to the local mosque to check out the little family carnival they had set up. Mexican for a late lunch, and then she dropped me off at home so she could go get some work done.

I remember getting all dressed up on that sunshiney Eid morning and thinking it felt a little bit like Easter (insert that emoji that’s laughing so hard it has tears coming out of its eyes).

But really I was pretty lucky as far as first Eid for a convert goes. I know many more sisters who end up feeling alone and isolated during Eid times, often cut off from both their own family and the community at large, with no one to celebrate with.

My second Eid I spent in Algeria with my husband. And despite being surrounded by family, I had one of the most dull “holidays” of my life. Pretty much everyone went to pray dressed in whatever old abaya they rolled out of bed in (so many stares for the only girl dressed up in the prayer hall…), went home and gorged themselves on food and slept for the rest of the day. Until they woke up and ate more food.

Even our cat stole so much meat off of the table that he couldn’t move until he woke up from a stupor in the middle of the night.

So my husband and I ended up going out walking, still looking slightly out of place in my nice Eid dress and flowers in my hijab. We didn’t really know what to do with ourselves, so we sat by the beach and enjoyed the summer weather for a while, before heading back home for dinner. I guess this just means that my husband and I will have to start making our own Eid traditions!

I know the title says reflections on Eid from a convert, but I am starting to feel like there isn’t as much to reflect on as I had thought. Yes, we all experience loneliness, sometimes isolation, an odd displacement from our familiar family holiday traditions to a new tradition-less holiday. Sometimes we feel cut off, and like there is no fun left for us: we don’t celebrate our old holidays, and the new ones don’t feel very holiday-like at all.

Instead of doing any more reflecting on the negatives of the convert’s situation, I think I will give you my ideas as to how a convert can make Eid feel special no matter where they are!

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about how I make Eid feel like a holiday is dressing up. Even if you are the only person walking around in a new dress, putting that extra time into getting something nice on will make the day feel more special. Keep it within hijab limits of course, but make yourself feel pretty!

Another thing you can do to make sure you don’t end up alone is to take the initiative and reach out to others. I know most of us don’t have families that celebrate with us, or even understand what we are celebrating. But get in touch with some Muslim friends, even if they aren’t close friends I can bet you would find one or two that would love to host you for Eid. If even that fails, reach out to your local masjid. See if they can arrange for someone to pick you up for prayers if you need transportation, and someone to include you in their family celebration.

If you are in America, it is also highly likely that your local mosque will have some sort of shenanigans planned for Eid. Often times they will have a kind of fair, where families can come for sweets, food, games, and bouncey castles. It may feel weird to go alone, but at least you could pop by, see if there is anyone you know, grab some sweets and head out.

And if all else fails—no family, no friends, no access to the community to celebrate with—celebrate yourself. Dress up, take yourself out to your favorite cafe or restaurant. Spend the day doing something you love, take that extra-long bath with that bath bomb thing you spent too much money on. Go for a walk, window-shop, drink tea, read a book. Whatever will make the day feel special to you, do that.

You can make each Eid a trial and error, figuring out as you go what you enjoy and what makes it feel special. You’ll have some nice ones and some horrible ones, and eventually, somewhere down the line, you will end up solidifying your own Eid traditions that you can pass on to the generations to come, in shaa Allah!

Wishing you the very best of the last days of Ramadan and hoping that, in shaa Allah, you will have a beautiful Eid no matter what your circumstances. May Allah accept our fasts and our duas during this holy month, and may He let us live to see the next Ramadan, ameen!

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