Friday, 17 July 2015

Eid in Glasgow

BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day
Friday 17th July 2015
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam
University College Cork 

The month of fasting has come to an end and Muslims globally are about to celebrate the festival of Eid.  It’s a great time of year when family and friends get together to celebrate the official day dedicated to the ‘breaking of the fast’.  I’ve always found it a good time to reflect on what just happened to mind and body during the last month of fasting and how to move forward from it.  Even though the commercialization of the festival is never far from sight.  I’ve seen first hand the shopping frenzy of my own family during the last few days.  From food, special clothes and gifts, there seems to be no end to it. I avoided the rush and did my own shopping a few weeks ago. 

All this buying to celebrate is mixed with Islamic traditions that call upon Muslims to donate more than usual to those in need during this holy month.  I was struck by the generosity of Muslims in America who have been crowdfunding thousands of dollars to help rebuild black churches that were burnt by white supremacists a few weeks ago.  The campaigns page reads, ‘all houses of worship are sanctuaries, let’s unite to help our brothers and sisters in faith’.  This act of kindness has made me think of how charity can bring marginalized communities together to help each other and strengthen peace and social justice in society. 

But how does one keep the balance of spending on oneself and those in more desperate need?  There are extreme cases of Muslim charity.  Prince Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia vowed during the month of fasting that he would give away his entire 32 billion dollar wealth to charity.  The act of fasting brings in to perspective what we really need to live and those extra bits of luxury.  These are dilemmas that I’m sure most of us are faced with on a day-to-day basis.  It is the prioritizing of these acts that we must all try to keep in check and balance as best as we can.