Friday, 12 October 2007

Eid, Glasgow and Community

The holy month of Ramadhan is over and Eid is here! Alas I get to scoff my face with scones and morning coffee. Interestingly there was no consensus, yet again, amongst the Muslims nationally or globally on the day of Eid. Eid was on Friday in parts of the UK and Middle East but we Glaswegians will celebrate on Saturday! That is not so unusual. But I can't help feel that I will miss this month since I had gotten so used to the whole process.

One of my dear Christian friends asked recently how on earth one is able to concentrate on attaining 'God consciousness' when you feel unconscious with hunger! Bearing in mind that this is the exact reason why fasting was prescribed by God in the Qur'an. Interesting question.

I think the answer to that one lies in the simple word known as’spirituality’. Spirituality can mean many different things to different people but to me it means understanding my existence through all that is happening around me, seen and unseen. This then means that when I fast I can empathise with those who have no food; even though I know I will get a meal at the end of the day. It also means that whenever the pangs of hunger hit me I am able to remind myself why I was fasting in the first place. There is a lot to ponder over when it comes to fasting. Sadly such reflections are lost when a religious community become so engrossed in the ritual that they forget the reason for doing it! I think fasting has become a ritual which a lot of Muslims do for its collective strength as opposed to its spiritual strength. If a believer who has submitted to God to the extent that they give up food for God's sake then surely that would see a growth in love and beauty in the hearts of the believer? Imagine the world if this same love and beauty was manifested in the lives of every believer on this earth? How much of a change would we see? How quickly would the worlds greatest misery and war be eradicated?

The Mosques are full, overflowing to the streets outside actually, on Eid. Everyone has their new outfit on, meeting and greeting their friends and exchanging wads of cash (money is usually given as opposed to material gifts in most Muslim cultures) but I still don't feel the buzz of spirituality. The Mosque sermons don't even uplift my spirituality since they are sermons usually 'telling me off' on all the bad things I 'could' do on Eid and how I 'should' come to the Mosque in the other 11 months! Yawn yawn.

I guess Christmas has become like this too. My good friend the Methodist Minister moans every year at how commercialised and ungodly Christmas is becoming. Maybe this is the effect of our secular culture, on one hand we cherish our secular, progressive Scottish values but we also want our religious rituals. So what do we do? We try and secularise the religious rituals and we make a clear mess of it all! If we have a total fusion of the secular, progressive and religious we will surely see the most beautiful explosions!