|As Ramadan comes to a close, Arshad Daud, Assistant Secretary of the Balham Mosque and Tooting Islamic Centre, tells us all about Eid and addresses the events of recent weeks.|
As-salamu alaykum (peace be with you)
As Ramadan draws to a close, we take stock and reflect upon the month that has just passed. My piece at the start of Ramadan highlighted the importance of introspection and being able to empathise with the hardships and suffering faced by others – unfortunately, we did not have to look very far in order to do that this Ramadan.
The past month has undeniably been one of the most emotionally and spiritually trying, due to the sheer number of tragedies that have occurred in London itself. Whether it be the London Bridge & Borough attack, the Grenfell Tower fire, or the attack on local Muslims in Finsbury Park, it is evident that self-reflection and coming together as a community is more important now than ever before.
Before I continue, on behalf of Balham Mosque and Tooting Islamic Centre, I would like to express our immense sadness at these tragedies, and our prayers and best wishes are with all of the victims and their families and with those communities that have been affected by these events.
Of course, the tireless efforts and selfless bravery of the emergency services in the aftermath of every single incident have been invaluable, and we heartily appreciate their hard work in keeping us safe and making us feel secure at all times.
Upon completing the month of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the festival of Eid al-Fitr. Subject to the sighting of the moon, or news of its sighting in a country anywhere east of the United Kingdom, Eid can be on Sunday 25 or Monday 26 June.
Here’s what you should look out for:
The night immediately before the festival of Eid will be incredibly busy – Tooting and surrounding areas break into an impromptu street party atmosphere, with a lot of the local shops staying open into the early hours of the morning.
On the morning of Eid al-Fitr, you will note that the areas in and around Balham Mosque & Tooting Islamic Centre are very busy between 8am and 11am when the Muslim community gathers at the mosque for an obligatory prayer, before spending the day with family or friends and wishing one another ‘Eid Mubarak’, or ‘Blessed Eid’. Feasts and sweets are also shared to mark the end of the fasting period.
The arabic name ‘Eid al-Fitr’ translates as ‘festival of the breaking of the fast’ – there is no happier time for a Muslim than Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the coming of ease after hardship. For this reason, Eid al-Fitr is also a time of forgiveness and of thanking Allah for helping people to complete their spiritual obligations, including fasting.
A verse from the Holy Quran, (Chapter 94:Verse 6) kind of sums up how I felt through the course of this past month, in particular – “Verily, with hardship there is relief.”
In parallel to the expected practices of reflection, inculcating God-conciousness, and benefitting from the physical benefits of fasting, we all went through hardship and varying degrees of strife. However, we also witnessed lots of hope this Ramadan.
In Islam, there is significant emphasis placed on the importance of a community wider than just our immediate family and friends. Being part of a community, we are able to share the good and the bad equally, and this has never been as evident as in these past few weeks.
The aftermath of one tragedy after another, in such quick succession, witnessed people coming together in order to help those impacted, putting aside any superficial differences and working together as one. At one point I was overwhelmed, despite my sadness, on the day the mosque launched a donation campaign for Grenfell Tower on social media. And what a response! People from all over Tooting rushed forth to help those affected by donating clothes, food and toiletries, weighing almost a ton, which we delivered to the affected area the same evening by 7pm.
At Grenfell Tower, we witnessed an impromptu street Iftar organised by the Muslim volunteers for the victims of the disaster. The long tablecloths seated people of all colours, creeds and faith, and had become an instant symbol of tolerance and co-existence, something which fills me with hope and joy for our future generations. As you’ll know, a group of Muslims in Finsbury Park were attacked by someone who ran a van into them. One died and several were injured as a result of this attack. The actions of the resident Imam to diffuse the immediate situation, thus preventing further injuries or loss of life, illustrated the key Islamic principles of patience, restraint and self-discipline. To honour the victims, we were proud to participate at the Vigil organised by Dr Rosena, our local MP – again, the show of tolerance, solidarity and hope amongst the diverse community of Tooting, shone through like a beaming light.
Nearly thirty days ago, I promised to invite you and your family to visit our Mosque and partake in a post-sunset meal with us. Of course obvious circumstances that have been totally out of our control have not allowed us to fulfil this promise. However, I cordially invite you and your family to join us in Anerley on 1 July for our Annual Fun Day, which promises to be a great day out for the whole family (with weather, we hope, to match). We’re expecting this year to be bigger and better than ever before. Look out on Tooting Daily PRSS for more information. All said and done, if it’s one thing I’d like to highlight as we count down the hours to the end of the Blessed Month of Ramadan, it is the focus of our communities on something that brings us together rather than that which divides us. No matter who we are, what race, creed, colour, faith or no-faith, we have a lot more in common than we think. If we all just reflect and look inside ourselves, we’ll find that we may call it different things, but I call it Humanity – that’s the purpose of Ramadan and that is definitely what I have taken from this Blessed month this year and I hope to live with that for the rest of my life, Insha-Allah (Allah Willing)!
Until the next time,
Wa-Salam (With Peace)