I wanted to share this letter to my friends and neighbors with you:
Dear Friends and Neighbors
As Ramadan winds down, I want to ask you to forgive me if I may have offended you by any action or word of mine, Please be assured that it was truly inadvertent.
I have been secluded in prayer in the last ten days of Ramadan, These are days in which the revelation of the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.
I have been trying to seek peace from the spirituality of these nights and the discipline of fasting in the day.
Ramadan and the Eid celebration at the end of the month is especially challenging for us as we miss Tariq intensely in these days. He brought the spirit of laughter all through the month and in Eid.
I can empathize with those people who do not want Muslims to celebrate the end of Ramadan if it falls on September 11 as it would make them sad to see someone else happy especially if they are similar in faith to the alleged perpetrators of the death of their loved ones.
I have learned to look at Life in this world through a different lens since Tariq died. For me it is a journey towards our final destination hopefully Paradise.
In the journey of life some people get off the train earlier than others. Every person approaches life uniquely as per his or her circumstances and experiences. Some are happy because they have a new baby or graduate from college, and put lights on their houses at Christmas to welcome their loved ones. While some of us mourn the child who is not with us anymore.
Islam has some practical sides to it. One of them is a limited time of public mourning.
Understanding the fact that we will always miss Tariq and especially on his death anniversary and the holidays, we also know that the cycle of life and death goes on, and that we must not envy those who still have children who bring them joy.
This acceptance of death and lack of public mourning after a fixed time comes from the concept of acceptance of death as a part of our journey in Islam.
We believe that when we are placed in this world for a fixed time period, we must accomplish the rights of God and the rights of Human beings and God’s other creatures, and then we go home, hopefully to Paradise depending on our behavior in this world. We also know that everyone has to die one day and there is no escaping that fact.
As for the end of Ramadan celebration, Muslims celebrate the fact that they lived to complete the spiritual days of Ramadan and to give thanks with one extra congregational prayer that day. Also on that day the poor due is incumbent on each individual so that they too eat with the Muslims. The children get new clothes and get to eat goodies.
So ten years later (9/11/2001), which was also the year my brother died, would I want Muslims to “celebrate”?
I try to think back to the Eid, Thanksgiving and Christmas five years ago and remember that it was challenging as everyone was celebrated while Tariq was dead and I felt my heart would spill over with grief.
At the same time I tried to remind myself that Shireen was alive and that other people had children that they loved and wanted to see happy. It was extremely difficult but I tried not to dampen their happiness nor flaunt my grief and make them feel guilty of their joy with their families.
I discovered the year Tariq died that one of the traditions of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was to go to the house of the recently bereaved. I was surprised when people showed up at my door on Eid with food, empathic, and respectful of my grief.
I know that the moments with your children are measured, and eventually you part from them either through moving away for college, marriage, and job or irrevocably through death.
I cannot speak for the families of the victims of the 911 calamity. However having witnessed five Eid celebrations since Tariq’s death I know that the “celebration” of Eid is quite sober, more spiritual and far more stringent than many other holidays.
Most of all it is a day when Muslims show gratitude to God by sharing food, praying in congregation, paying the poor due ahead of time so that they too eat on that day.
Most likely in our town Eid will fall on Friday September 10, but maybe on September 11 according to the lunar calendar.
With so many people whose hearts ache with the death or illness of a loved one, my personal philosophy is not to dampen the happiness of someone, especially if it is well earned after the thirty days of discipline of fasting in the day and praying in the night.
Maybe I think more of others than myself,
I would never begrudge you the joy of Christmas or Thanksgiving with your family whether it is one, five or ten years after I lost my son.
I pray that you will find it in your heart to congratulate a Muslim on September 10 or 11 and say the classic greeting of Eid:
“Eid Mubarak and May Allah accept your good works and ours”
I hope you will forgive me for not being very social these past five years as death at close quarters lends a sobriety that nothing else can…it refines the sensitivities and makes one grateful for every single thing that one has been given, be it the air we breath, love or the smile of a friend or neighbor.
I remain yours in peace
With Fond Regards,
Here is Eid in a nutshell: