<disclaimer: belated post>
Eid this year was extraordinarily crazed. I had a cake to bake and we had decorations to put up. The night before was a bit unprecedented and we ended up at another cousin’s house across town instead of taking care of these things. In addition to all the family that already resides, one new family moved into town, and my own immediate family in its entirety was visiting. There were people and kids and activity just everywhere you turned and I was happy but kind of tired even before Eid began. I fell asleep in exhaustion friday night.
The high point came the morning of Eid though. Firsts are a big deal. The first step you take learning how to walk, the first day of school, the first time of anything really. As so was my first Eid salah. I had been before, all the times we spent Eid in Makkah or Madinah, but I want to say I wasn’t too sure of what was going on then. While living in the US, I had started to understand its importance but very gradually. Last year I tried with all my might yet I still didn’t wake up in time for it. This year I woke up a little later than I’d have liked but somehow things worked out. I got ready and into new clothes and wrapped a new scarf and put kohl in my eyes, and flew down when I heard my brother’s steps down the stairs. I wasn’t being noble by going, but something about it felt special—perhaps just the idea of starting the day with a congregational prayer.
It was cold with light rain. My brother drove and in the front sat my dad, who was wincing from the cold, sipping tea, and inspecting my car for visible issues as we rode. We were late. I took them through a road that ended up having construction. We became even more late. Eid salah is different from friday prayer because the prayer occurs first, and the khutbah follows after. So if you’re late, you miss the prayer.
Even in that apprehension, I sat in the back seat behind my brother and dad and couldn’t help feeling warm inside. This was happening after 25 years. When I was really young, maybe five or six, my mom would stay home, but my dad would take me with him when he took my brothers for prayer. And here we were again. Some things had changed. My brother was taking us for one thing, this was a much colder, grayer place than where we grew up, and my dad’s movements seemed subdued by the weather. I also was not five years old anymore, but it didn’t matter. Going to prayer with them, I felt like a little girl again, and it was kind of wonderful.
At the venue, the parking lot was a big mess, with little hope for a spot. Several cars were illegally parked so we followed suit, hoping no ticket would result. There was maybe one minute left until the prayer was scheduled to begin. A little stressful.
I walked through the entrance into a flood of people. There were people everywhere. I made my way to the women’s side, quickly greeted someone I knew, and found a place to sit. Maybe 30 seconds after that, the prayer began. Eid salah has an increased number of takbirs (proclamation: Allah is Greater/Greatest), and as we raised our hands over and over saying Allahu Akbar, I was moved. All the hysteria, all the construction and being late, and rushing and every other worry in the world was dispelled. Right now, we were here, all of us—a community full—including me specifically who probably only knew five people in the entire hall, and we were all celebrating Eid by praising Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Additionally, it’s always exciting if you’re non-Arabic speaking and the imam recites a verse you actually happen to know, but in the case of one of the rakahs, he happened to recite a set of my favorite ayaat:
After salah, the khutbah started. Meanwhile on the side, coffee stations were set up by the venue and I went up to retrieve some. We sat on the floor, row upon row, sipping hot coffee in styrofoam cups, listening to what was being said. It was nice being there with everyone, watching kids run around and people greet one another. When the khutbah ended, people embraced and socialized, and drank more coffee. I made my way out back to the illegally parked car that already had my two associates sitting inside, ready to go.
The rest of the day was busier than I ever remember Eid being, but it was okay. That morning of Eid salah was so lovely, that a month and a half later now it still shines bright in my mind.