Is it possible to make every day an image of Eid? What makes Eid Eid, or so attractive as apparently nothing unique happens on that day? The secret lies in our changed attitude to life on Eid days.
It is an attitude informed by wonder. Wonder at whatever happens, or one sees and does. On this day we live as Muhsins doing everything as if God sees or perfectly, in style, with an eye on beauty.
This means experiencing life sub species aeternitatis. For this day life is lived as a work of art, a symphony of sanctifying vivifying rituals.
It is a day of sharing or giving and thus a day of Spirit. Here the miracle occurs as we leave behind the petty and suffocating trap of ego and cultivate/experience fellowship of kith and ken or communion with family members, friends and neighbours.
On this day we do labour but don’t toil and we experience something of the treasure of joy that is ours but forgotten because it is, ordinarily, ego that dictates terms and dries up the fount of joy.
God has given us all a wellspring of joy in the form of the Garden of Spirit.
Eids come to remind us that we fail in life, if we don’t succeed in cultivating an attitude of celebration. Life is such a joyous feast for those who know how to celebrate. As little children we have been celebrating.
Likes of Hafiz and Khayyam are to be read to measure our distance from this celebratory attitude. Let us go to mourn those who are habitually somber or too serious - in fact we need to take them to psychiatrists or spiritual doctors.
Those who torture daughters in law or children in various ways (such as taunting on percentage of marks obtained) are to be put behind bars. Those who curse their work or jobs are cursed in turn by life. Those who need to take recourse to drugs or mind stimulants have accepted defeat and try devious shortcuts which result in failure.
Most of us fail to cultivate wonder and beauty in lives and know only cheap entertainment instead of celebration. As such it is hell they are traversing and they make others’ lives hell as well.
Eid is celebrated after the hard test of Ramadhan. Why? It implies shariah, premised on taklif due to our wills ordinarily not disposed to virtue, is fundamentally tailored to make us surrender will and lustful self (yed chini kales khalen – don’t let the belly dictate terms) so that we naturally celebrate.
If we have achieved dominance over enslaving lusts for food and other things or succeeded in overcoming attachment to other than God, we deserve to celebrate this victory.
And this is called Eid. Ramadhan has been designed to remove the only obstruction in the way of celebration – desiring self. Let us not pounce on food or any object of appetite as this is against human dignity. Ramadhan shows that a believer is capable of resisting any lust.
Isn’t this a noteworthy achievement worthy of celebration? That explains why Eid follows Ramadhan and not precedes it. One can endure any ordeal if one has an eye on Spirit that constitutes our deepest self.
If we have forgotten the mantra of celebrating every day as Eid, let us read Abraham Joshua Heschel to vivify our souls this Eid and experience something of the ecstasy that our being has access to.
Awe, that really translates what is called fear of God/taqwa, enables us to perceive, as Heschel says, in the world “intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.”
On Eid days every small act is enjoyed and the world appears clothed in a new glory though it is the same dusk and dawn and children we are familiar with. Eid defamiliarizes as does art and this induces wonder which is vivifying.
Heschel remarks that “The true meaning of existence is disclosed in moments of living in the presence of God.” Eid prayers and the refrain of Labayka Allahuma labayka and shared meals and gifts (Eidi) constitute ways to evoke the presence of God or our availability for other.
Accessing the realm of time where our goal becomes not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord” we are lifted into empyreal world that is joyful.
Eid becomes such a joy as we renounce egotistic utilitarian claims on that day and let life enjoy its own rhythms. We learn just to be and sip the joy of life. But we can learn to love the work or task at hand and that will become joyful.
Sabbbath is the perfection of the spirit of holiday/Sunday. Eid is a day of rest and holy labour as distinguished from toil. To quote from The Sabbath of Heschel that brilliantly explains the philosophy of holidays we all get or deserve again:
He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man
The Sabbath is the most precious present mankind has received from the treasure house of God. All week we think: The spirit is too far away, and we succumb to spiritual absenteeism, or at best we pray: Send us a little of Thy spirit. On the Sabbath the spirit stands and pleads: Accept all excellence from me.
We must not forget, as Heschel notes, that it is “not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is the moment that lends significance to things.” Eid is when such moments are bestowed upon us. Heschel aptly notes that “To be or not to be is not the question, the vital question is how to be and how not to be.” If we master the art of how to be, we shall be in perpetyual festivity and deserve Eid Mubarak from God/ Cosmos/Life round the year.
Why we forget the one who makes our Eid so special – the farmer who rears animals weeat and produce milk? One way of honouring him/heris to have first hand taste of the joy and challenge of rearing animalsbyrearing a few poultry birds or sheep or some other animals as pets to experience how contact with animals humanizes and sanctifies.
One may also accompany the farmer to grazing lands, or become a shareholder in his enterprize. We are in the process of tying up with some sheep farmers, in Shariah complaint business module, in which we shall help them get two ewes or cash Rs 20000 before two months of Eid az-Zuha and 50% of rearing charges for one ewe (Rs 2000) every November and in turn those who pay shall be shareholders in its progeny (50%).
It shall allow farmers to start/expand their enterprise without need to avail any loan while as shareholders shall get one Qurbani compatible animal weighing at least 33kg (and if a shareholder insists more weight that shall be compensated) for four years to begin with and it is expected to review/renew contract after four years.
Some farmers have expressed readiness to supply one animal for Qurbani from current year against Rs 25000 as a courtesy gesture. Sheep and Mutton Bank Initiative shall cover only natural calamity losses or losses due to unprecedented disease in collaboration with farmers who register and jointly resolve to help one another.
Farmers who are in loop have pledged to support one another in case of exigency so that initiative runs.
Recommendations of veterinary professionals and proper responsibility of those who initiate/recommend have been used in the process to make it run on professional lines and do networking of new sheep banks on larger scale.
Thus, as opportunity to help ourselves and helping farmers who are in want of money to expand their farms, we invite all to join. This will help in the long run get free mutton and qurbani animals and make our everyday an Eid or make Eid very special.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.