My friend’s daughter spent her 7th birthday in a unique way. Unlike other kids her age who want to decorate their house with balloons, order a giant birthday cake, invite all their friends and expect a lot of presents, she decided to do it differently.
There was no party planned at her house that day. Instead she took seven brand new toys (because she turned 7) and gave them to the patients at the children’s hospital. She also bought some chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A and gave them to a homeless shelter. She turned her birthday from an occasion to “receive” to an occasion to “give.” She is a Muslim girl and what she did on her birthday is an inspiration for all of us.
This story should not surprise anyone, because Islam like any other religion advocates that we take care of the sick and the needy. Muslims are just finishing up the month of fasting (Ramadan) and the holiday of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Eid is a jubilant occasion, everyone dresses up nicely, sumptuous meals are made, people visit friends and family, children run around and play.
“It’s a lot of fun,” as a 7-year-old will put it. It is also an occasion to remember the less privileged.
Those who may not have the luxury to afford a new dress or a nice meal or even just a warm hug from a loved one. As a collective effort Muslims make charitable financial contributions leading up to the day of Eid that is spent to include everyone in the festivities.
As an example, the Ahamdiyya Muslim community, which is one of the many Muslim communities in America, collected over $75,000 for this very purpose alone last year.
It was a regular practice of the Prophet Muhammad to take one route for going to the Mosque for Eid prayer and return through another. This was done so he could meet and greet more people along the way and share the happiness of Eid.
One day when the Prophet was returning from the Eid prayer he saw a young kid sitting on the sidewalk, sad and gloomy. When the Prophet inquired what’s the matter with him, the kid replied, I don’t have a new dress to wear, any food to eat and even a place to live. The Prophet asked him what if I took you home with me, would that make you happy? The innocent kid responded with gleeful eyes and a smile on his face, yes! The Prophet took the kid home, gave him new clothes and fed him good food. This example is just one of many that presents the true charitable face of Muhammad.
Eid is as much an occasion to give back and share the happiness with others, as it is to rejoice and celebrate individually. Charlotte Bronte put it very nicely that “happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.” Eid reminds us that we are all one big family. We may look different, we may dress differently, we may eat different foods but the smile on our face is universal, it’s the same everywhere.
My friend’s daughter did not get any physical presents on her birthday but I am sure she was very happy that day and she made a lot of other kids happy too. After all isn’t that the purpose of any celebration, whether it’s a birthday or Eid: to spread happiness!