From our ‘Pray through Ramadan’ emails:
Tomorrow was the festival at the end of the fasting month, the most important time in the Muslim year, and Isaac was feeling relieved.
It had been a hard year. One terrible night he had woken to shouts of ‘fire!’ and had to escape his small house with his wife and two young children past the rapidly increasing flames near the entrance. They had lost everything, as had the other families living in that small block that had burned to the ground, and some people had said they were cursed.
Only two months ago now he had lost his job, and money became tighter and tighter. The fasting month was not a good time to find work, and he had at points despaired of being able to earn enough for the special festival fast approaching. Then thankfully he got a week’s work as a driver, out of the blue, and he had thanked Allah for remembering him. It would be enough, just about, to buy new clothes for the children, the essential baseline for the festival. He would need a new shirt too, his small pile of clothing was all too obviously well worn. On this special day everyone had to look fresh and clean. Perhaps his wife would be able to make do with something that she already had, she was clever with a needle and thread, and she also often put things away for a while and brought them out again months or a year later as if they were new. He would make it up to her next year, surely by then he would have steady income.
It would be good to be able to buy meat to make the traditional hot fragrant meal for Idul Fitri, but if it came to it he could ask his cousin for a chicken instead. His wife would cook the square packages of compressed rice, and his sister-in-law would give them a jar of the little traditional cakes that should be present in every house in case of visitors. They would make do.
They loved this special festival. All night tonight Isaac and his son would be at the mosque, banging the huge drum and chanting into the microphone, celebrating with their friends and community. At dawn they would all gather, hundreds of people filling the mosque and spilling out into the alleyways around it, everyone dressed in pure white and performing the ritual prayers together. Praise Allah, the great merciful, the great purifier for his favour.
Later they would file round to each others’ houses, younger members visiting older relatives to exchange their greetings. “Forgive me for the things said and thought wrong.” They would eat together, and everyone would be laughing and happy, discussing plans for the week of holiday ahead.
Time to pray
The festival that marks the end of Ramadan at the end of this week, Eid al-Fitr, is one of the biggest occasions in the Islamic calendar. Many will buy new clothes or put on their best clothes for the festival. For some, like Isaac, this can be a challenge.
Lord, we pray for those who may feel left on the edges of these festivals at the end of Ramadan, either because of their social position or financial circumstances.