Once upon a time in America, five Muslim brothers – Mahbub, Osama, Ali, Saleh and Bashir – got together to celebrate the Eid. It was an impromptu affair organized hastily shortly after the end of the Eid prayer. The two brothers who hosted the affair – Mahbub and Ali – had contemplated inviting friends to their apartment a few days earlier, but had never gotten around to the actual planning. Nevertheless, upon returning from the Eid prayer, they decided that they would indeed entertain company and went about the task of calling several friends.
Most of those who were called were unable to accept the invitation at such short notice. Undaunted however, Mahbub and Ali resolved to make their small Eid party worth the while for the handful of people who did come.
While Mahbub cleaned their apartment Ali went to a local halal restaurant to get food. He didn’t purchase very much – just two roasted chickens, some basmati rice, some salad greens and some sweets. It was by no means a feast. It was simply a meal purchased on a student’s budget for a few friends who had no expectations of an extravagant evening of dining and entertainment.
Saleh, Osama, and Bashir joined Mahbub and Ali later that afternoon. They sat on the floor with the food laid out before them on pieces of old newspaper. They talked, they ate, they joked, they laughed. They discussed Islam and issues important to Muslims at the time. When it was time to pray, they prayed. They enjoyed one another’s company for the better part of an entire afternoon.
To this very day some of those brothers who attended that small Eid gathering insist that it was one of the best Eids ever. Though there were only two chickens, roasted very simply, some brothers seem to remember that day as if it were a magnificent feast. And although the conversation lasted only a few hours, some brothers recall talking all day long and into the night, laughing as they never had before.
There was no television that day, no movies, no music. There were absolutely no external entertainment factors. The only entertainment that happened that day was a result of what those five brothers brought into that apartment.
With another Eid having come and gone, millions of Muslims have celebrated in their own peculiar fashions. In the Muslim world, animals have been sacrificed, families have been visited, carnivals have entertained children, gifts have been given and a good time has been had by all.
In America, things have not been quite so elaborate. Employers often times refuse to permit their Muslim workers to miss a full three days of work for the Eid. So the Muslims in America suffice with what they can do, which is to strip the Eid down to its barest essence: sacrifice, sharing, brotherhood, sisterhood.
And although the pageantry of Eid celebrations in the Muslim world was largely absent in American Eid festivities, the Eid was celebrated nonetheless. And throughout this new land of Islam, groups of five brothers or sisters have gathered together and enjoyed entertainment like they never have before. We should all be so lucky.