Our West Sussex Chaplain, Samantha Burton, shares her thought for the week on the Eid ul-Fitr celebrations, marking the end of the Muslim festive Ramadan.
This week/today sees our Muslim friends, both in this country and around the world, marking the end of the Month of fasting and prayer that is Ramadan, with the Eid ul-Fitr celebrations. This is usually a great occasion, bringing together families and friends in joyful celebration, with food, donations to the poor and those in need, and sometimes small gifts (like sweets) to the children and closest family.
This year, as with last, things may be somewhat muted, families may be more restricted from large gatherings, but there will still be celebrations, good food, and a rejoicing in closer relationships that often come from a month of prayer and fasting together.
Fasting – I admire anyone, of any religion, Muslim, Jew, and Christian to name a few, who practices this discipline, I can’t go a couple of hours without feeling hungry! But it does make me wonder, if I already am appreciative of good food, how much better must it taste after fasting for a month? And how much less would it be taken for granted…
This week, this celebration, has made me reflect on our own fasting in the past year – out of necessity and good communal responsibility, many of us have been fasting, if not from food, but from meeting friends, going to the pub, dinners out, holidays abroad, work (where furlough and job losses are concerned) and, most keenly felt for me, from hugs and social contact with people we know and love.
Some of these things are tentatively coming back as we ease out of lockdown, but how much has this time really focused our priorities, our needs, and our desires? How much more are we appreciative of our friends, close relatives, partners, whom many have missed so much in the past year? Our young residents too have had to put regular meet ups with family or friends on hold, and we know how isolating that has been for them. I know some who are seeing their family members for the first time in 7-8 months next week and will be exchanging Christmas presents! A long overdue time of ‘feasting’ for them.
So to all our Muslim friends and colleagues and young people with whom we interact, we wish ‘Eid Mubarak’!