We made a hamper of sweets for our ten year old to take to school with him tomorrow to share with his classmates on the occasion of Eid as they had done during Christmas. As the special occasion of Eid approaches with much excitement, Muslims families across the world prepare for the big day. But how do families in majority non-Muslim countries like Scotland celebrate Eid? It can be a bit difficult to create that feeling of true inner jubilation when most of the society you live in do not share your faith and therefore your Eid. Now, how about children who grow up seeing the grandeur Christmas is accorded?
Schools go into Christmas mode for almost an entire month, singing, baking, exchanging cards and season’s greetings. This is the reality, we need to acknowledge it. After taking stock, we - Muslim parents - should realise how much we need to work in helping our children grow up not conflicted about their identities. So how about Eid? How can we create within our children, a love and glowing pride in their celebration of Eid? Here are some of our tips as parents of children who attend primary school in Edinburgh.
Make the Day Grand by Building Up to It
From the start of Ramadan, we need to grow and infuse a clear, warm and genuine sense of awareness that “hey, we have entered a uniquely special season”. Whether it be that you put up special lanterns, candle lights, decorations … whatever it is, it should be symbolic of the special month of fasting. This way, a momentum is built. Each day onward becomes an exciting build up to the big day of celebration. The more your child sees this, feels it and hears about it, the more likely they are to internalise it. They will recall those special moments when they grow up and start families of their own.
Explain to Your Child
How many of us were told by our parents to fast but not actually enlightened as to why we should. How can we expect our children to make Eid a special day in their hearts when they do not know what led up to it and therefore why it isn’t just another ordinary day of the year? We need to start having those conversations within our families where we allow room for questions to be asked and voices to project. If you’re unsure about your faith and practice, how about some family research together on the topic?
Work with the School and Authorities
There is no better relationship than one of cooperation. The schools exist to educate our children, and we share in this monumental task. It should therefore be teamwork. Most schools will allow for your child to have consented leave to celebrate the Eid. Why not follow that up a step further to ask how the school can further support your child to make his religious day special? Could s/he give a talk to their classmates to explain what s/he is celebrating so that they know why they have to take a day or two off school? And this year, our child will share sweets with his classroom just as his classmates shared sweets when it was Christmas. We hope by this, we show our child and his school that Islam is a religion that very much opens itself to being shared and allows people to come together on shared values.