Thursday, October 11, 2007

Caught In a Fight

Every year, three times a year, I find myself caught in the midst of a bitter fit. I feel like I am caught between two parents fighting with one another. Passionate. Accusatory. Quite saddening all of it.

Every year the Muslim community is found struggling to define and defend their most basic right, to claim the beginning and end of religious observances based on the sighting of the moon. This is like the Jewish tradition, where the moon is used to set dates, the lunar calender is an integral part of Muslim observances.

However, for a Muslim caught between tradition (principles- sunnah) and "modern" life (using this loosely to mean coping with life outside Muslim majority countries and the implications of differences on demands of life) this turmoil is not just disappointing, but quite nerve wrecking.

I prepared myself for Eid to be on Saturday. Turns out the Middle East sighted the moon declared Eid tomorrow- making it a momentous day- and throwing my world in whack because my parents Masjid follows Saudi moon sighting and I have to take tomorrow off, pack up, shop for clothes to wear, gifts to give and all of the other 'work' things in a matter of hours, and then drive up two hours to get my brother and drive home. Only to wake up to a hectic morning for prayer service preparations and then, then well Eid is over until the house calls begin.

You see what I have learned is this-

1. People are so passionate about the issue- they fight over it and dig their heels in.
2. Religion is meant to be a good experience- the fighting makes the Ramadan season and Eid a bit rancorous and down right unpleasant bitter in the beginning and the end.
3. People will not change their minds. They just won't, they are stubborn.
4. A Muslim layman is going to loose their minds dealing with the chaotic nature of the discourse and decision making process. Often times getting caught in between legitimate debates, but illegitimate rivalries that become personal.
5. Shaitan (Egos) plays with our hearts.

Given these, I cope the following way:

1. Until I have my own family, I do what my parents do;
2. I stay quite and walk away from these "conversations"; often times I just allow myself to let it in through one ear and out the other;
3. I smile and nod, and look for the quickest way to exit the situation, if ever caught in the firing lines;
4. I stay away from the "you were wrong, I was right" conversations;
5. My future preference is set, I will use the Calculation method- no matter how much people put it down, I find it to be in line with my Islamic understanding and ability, you can only pray that I am endowed with enough wisdom to accept your way of thinking, and I will pray that you will be endowed with enough wisdom to respect me for my decision and we can let each other live on this issue.

I hope my thoughts help people survive the MoonFight-palooza we have once again found ourselves in.


Huda Shaka` said...

Thanks for sharing some sanity tips Affad - very much needed I think.

Marya Bangee said...

well, shaytaan was chained for thirty days, and the ummah united by fasting together for almost all of those days, masha' Allah.

he has to find a quick way to cause division, and break the brother and sisterhood we built through prayer, charity and fasting, right?

may Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala protest us and guide us. ameen.

Marya Bangee said...

protect* us

Alia said...

`Eid Mubarak to Muslamics & Ummat al Habib (saw)and the rest of us: the Moon sighters, the Calculators, and the Saudi sighters :)!!!

Kareem Elsayed said...

SubHanAllah wise advice. There wouldn't be a problem if people were mature enough to avoid the debates surrounding the issue. There is an ancient legitimate scholarly debate on the issue (global vs local sighting) - for sure we wont solve it in our day and age. But what's important is to follow an opinion in line with the authentic sunnah of the Messenger of Allah sAaws. What's funny is both opinions use the same evidence to support their positions. Also something to add - we as a Muslim community have never had this problem before because we always had a centralized authority... even today in our "home lands". In the West, we dont have that and consequently there is chaos. We should really make it a priority to develop some sort of system to solve these and other problems plaguing our community. May Allah guide us all.