This post is part of our ongoing series featuring the works of Professor LeBoeuf 's students in her Introduction to Religions of Asia course at Whittier College!
The topic of Islam itself can sometimes be thought as violent and unpleasant, however, that is not all that Islam is. People view Islam in that way because of what the media shows but not all Muslims are bombers and not all Muslims are out to just kill and destroy. They have celebrations such Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha, in which Muslims gather to celebrate the breaking of the fast. Muslims love on people within their religion, especially during those celebrations because Muhammad said “eat together, and do not separate, for the blessing is in the company” (Braman, 2009). Moreover, that does not necessarily mean they do not love outsiders of their group. Speaking from experience, there are many Muslims that I know that tend to be the sweetest people a person can meet.
In Islam they have different celebrations but I chose the topic to be on Eid al Fitr. I chose Eid al Fitr because in Arabic, in Egypt at least, fitr means feast or eating, and Eid means celebration or holiday, and two things I love the most is food and holidays.
Eid al fitr is a very interesting celebration because it has many factors as to why and when Muslims celebrate this time. Eid al fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Usually, the day of the Eid is celebrated depending on the sighting of the new moon; Muslims tend to wait the night before Eid to verify the date. Eid al Fitr is celebrated in different ways depending on the country and geographical location, but overall it is the same idea of breaking the fast.
According to an article Eid al-Fitr 2017: Everything you need to know, “Many people wear traditional clothes, give gifts or money to children, and donate to charity. In some countries, the holiday is known as Sweet Eid for its variety of sweets” (2017). Before eating the main course of dinner, Muslims start off Eid al fitr with prayer followed by a sermon. After that is over, people wish others a happy Eid and they visit relatives, friends, and they even visit graves to pray for their lost ones. What they for breakfast and lunch/dinner as mentioned before, varies depending on the country but sweets are very popular during Eid. For example, according to What to Eat for Eid ul Fitr by Lisa Bramen, “Iraqis make a rosewater-scented, date-filled pastry called klaicha. A similar cookie called mamoul, served in Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere, is filled with dates or ground walnuts. Palestinians make a butter cookie with almonds or pine nuts called ghraybeh. Indonesians eat lapis legit, a rich “thousand-layered” spice cake that was introduced by the former Dutch colonists. In the Netherlands, it’s called spekkoek. It’s a high-maintenance dessert to make because the batter is poured, and broiled, thin layer by thin layer” (Bramen, 2009). It is all the same idea but different because of the country.
It is as if going into someone else’s home for dinner; it is ran differently simple because of the location someone is in. For the main courses different meats or proteins are attracted in different countries. For example, Bramen states that “Later in the day families gather for a big meal, with extra care going into presentation and serving a variety of special dishes. In Egypt, fish is usually the main attraction, while lamb is often featured in Iraq, Indonesia, and elsewhere. Beef is also popular, as in the Malaysian dish beef rendang, a spicy coconut curry” (Bramen, 2009). It is interesting to see that the idea of Eid al Fitr is the same but it is slightly tweaked depending on the country someone is in. I would think that there would be a set meal for all Muslims who celebrate Eid al Fitr no matter where they are, but the main idea is that is the day of the breaking of the fast.
Being a Christian, Eid al Fitr does not scare me away nor does it confuse me. Everyone has their own beliefs and quite frankly I do not see anything wrong with a little food and fellowship. Normally when a Christian fasts, it is to attempt to hear God’s voice a little clear. I usually fast when I need an answer from God or if I have a plan in my head that I want to make sure is from God; to make sure that I am doing it with His permission. Learning about the topic of Eid al Fitr was interesting to me because Christianity and Islam are similar but it all comes down to who they believe is divine. In Christianity we believe that Jesus as well as God is divine where in Islam they do not believe Jesus is divine. However, I will always love everyone no matter who they are because that is what I was taught and that is what Jesus did and as a Christian we are supposed to show who Jesus is through our actions.
Monica Hanna is a Kinesiology major at Whittier College. She is a 6’2 student-athlete and plays on the Women’s Basketball team. She is currently training to potentially play professional basketball overseas.