Why do some indulge in excessive spending at Eid time?
BY SUMAYYAH MEEHAN
5 October 2007
THE Prophet (pbuh) said: "Every nation has its festival, and this is your festival." As far as celebrations in Islam go there are only two that Muslims are allowed to celebrate. The first is called ‘Eid Al Fitr’ and it marks the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
The second is called ‘Eid Al-Adha’ and it comes after the Hajj, or pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah, is complete. Aside from these two holidays it is forbidden for Muslims to celebrate any other holidays. Birthdays, anniversaries, national days and the like are all times when Muslims are prohibited from celebrating.
There are several reasons why celebrations are forbidden in Islam and I could (and might) write an article about each one! But for the purpose of brevity I will use the example of celebrating birthdays to demonstrate a reason why celebrations are forbidden in Islam.
A birthday seems like a really fun event, right? Lots of cake, gifts and all the attention is focused on you for an entire day. What could be better? But if you delve a little deeper into the background of birthdays you will find that it is steeped in paganism. The actual lighting of candles to adorn the cake was originally done to appease what pagans worshipped as the ‘God of Fire’. So, a Muslim who celebrates birthdays are not only ignoring the decree from Allah to only celebrate the two Eids but they are also engaging in an act of shirk, or ascribing partners to Allah. And shirk is the one and only unforgivable sin.
Muslims who follow the Quran and Sunnah adhere strictly to only celebrating the two Eids but some, who are perhaps starved for a party, go a little overboard in their Eid preparations.
The final countdown
The final countdown has begun. The Holy Month of Ramadan will bid farewell in almost a week. Globally, Muslims are pulling out all the stops with their worship and are still looking for the ‘Night of Power’. However, a lot of Muslims are being distracted from their worship and being pulled away from the Mosque in favour of the bazaar. Everything that shines, dazzles and glitters is on display in shop windows catering to Eid shoppers all over the world.
The prices are steep and the competition is fierce. But most importantly for merchants, the wallets are open…wide open! Prices during the Eid holidays go up by at least 50-75 per cent. Eid is big business and is a time when normally sensible people lose their heads and literally shop until they drop. Granted, in Islam we are to wear our finest clothes for the Eid prayer.
Ibn Alqayyim said: "The Prophet used to wear his best clothes for the Eid prayers and he had clothes reserved for the two Eids and Jum'aa".
But many Muslims today go a lot further than that by splurging out on designer duds to wear for every minute of the Eid holidays. It’s interesting to point out that the day of Eid Al Fitr is just that... one day. But most countries observe three days or more of festivities.
The money pit
As I have seen firsthand in my own country, the US, people often go into debt when celebrating their holidays. I know of a handful of my own family members, who are Christian, that max out their credit cards every single Christmas. It usually takes them the whole year to pay off the balance and then when Christmas rolls around they do it again! I also know of some Muslims that do the same thing. They get caught up in the spirit of the season and simply throw their money into the cash register.
This trend is very worrisome because there is a real fear that the celebration of the two Eids will become simply a commercial holiday..,an excuse to shop. Muslims should be careful to stick to their belief system regardless of all the glitter that surrounds them prior and during the Eid holidays. Of course you can shop for yourself, friends and family. However, moderation is key. Do you really need those hot pink Robert Cavalli shoes and matching purse? Or that hand-tailored Armani suit? Think before you buy!
Remember that Eid Al Fitr is a time to be thankful to Allah that you completed the month-long fast in good health and with your loved ones. It is a time to congratulate each other on a job well done for engaging in increased acts of worship during this Holy month of Ramadan. And it is a time to lend a hand to the less fortunate by paying your Zakat. It’s not a time to be extravagant
just because you can be or because you feel you deserve a reward because you fasted an entire month. That type of thinking tarnishes not only the soul, but also everything that Ramadan and the Eid holidays stand for.
Sumayyah Meehan is a Kuwait-based American writer who embraced Islam.