The summer holidays have set upon us, and for those of you living here in Edinburgh, the unusual number of day after day sunshine would have got you well into the summer mood. As a kid growing up, the summer holidays were simply the best time of the year! Looking back, I do ask myself, is there anything I would have done different? As a Muslim parent, is there such a thing as an 'Islamic Summer Holiday' where Halal’s on the menu: plenty of Sunnah main courses and high Eeman afters? Or should we leave kids to be kids instead of trying to Islamify everything under the sun? Well, this blog post shares some viewpoints and invites you to chip in with your experiences and insights.
To Islamify or not to Islamify?
I for one do my very best to avoid labelling because life and people are much more complex than what these labels try to do. One approach I take is: I ask, well, what do you mean by this? Meaning is a powerful and helpful tool for making sense of our world. If I find 'meaning' in something, I take it without necessarily accepting the label. To answer the question: do we Islamify summer? If the meaning behind this is that we draw from our religious tradition to enrich our lives and experiences, then there is no doubt that this is a positive thing. However, if the meaning is what tends to be the focus of negative media, perceptions and stereotypes of Islam and Muslims in using certain ideologies and interpretations of the religion to politicise our lives in an unhealthy way, then no! So now we’ve agreed that we wish to draw from a healthy Islam to enhance our lives, how do we do this?
What can we use from Islam to enjoy our holidays?
First thing, Islam tells us to recognise we’re human. We need a break now and again. It is therefore Islamic to nourish your life with uplifting, inspirational activities which renew your bond to your Creator and rekindle the relationships with your loved ones. This is worship! Yes, having a summer holiday can be an act of worship to Allah which you get rewarded for as well as take much enjoyment from! Islam also encourages us to marvel at Allah’s wonderful creation as that renews our faith and strengthens our belief. How about choosing your holiday destinations to be family (budget) friendly in locations with amazing scenery? It doesn’t have to be in some tropical paradise, Pitlochry will do. We had an amazing time caravaning in this small Scottish village just a few hours away from Edinburgh.
Involve the Family
Islam highly values family. The summer holidays are an excellent time to get the family together, spend quality time and create memories. Many of us spend many years of our lives going after things: careers, money, fame etc. but at the end of the day, when those things die, we are only left with memories. Even if it just a few days in the summer, go out with the family and do something together. It can be as simple as having a picnic lunch, going to an open museum or walking around the Botanic Gardens - a great Edinburgh feature. In Scotland, the Muslim community is somewhat small compared to the rest of the UK where the summertime provides plenty of family activities of both fun and learning through conferences. Why not take a trip down South to e.g. London, Manchester or Birmingham to sample what’s on offer. Saying that, we strongly encourage the Edinburgh and Scottish Muslim community to start providing some of these opportunities as well. If you have any suggestions and ideas, please get in touch and let us know about it.
In an Olive Fruit
The summer holidays should definitely be seen as a unique season of our lives which we should definitely make the most of! Pure enjoyment and leisure aside, we have seen how the holidays can be enriched by our faith. We can take maximum pleasure without guilt; rather, with the view that we can actually be in worship by making the most of the opportunity to renew our bonds with our Creator, with nature, with our loved ones and create special memories which will last a lifetime. As a community, we have a duty to provide the safe spaces for our families and children to enjoy their summers. We need to provide the options for them to freely explore their identities and do the things they love doing. In doing so, we allow them the room to grow because we give them the space to be inspired by their Islamic heritage in a healthy way as opposed to forcing ideas, cultures and norms which they do not understand.