Celebrating Eid: District Judge Raffia Arshad shares her experience

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As a Muslim Judge, I am privileged to witness the significance of religious festivals in the lives of individuals and communities. One such celebration that holds deep cultural and religious significance for Muslims around the world is Eid. Eid, also known as Eid-ul-Fitr, is a celebration that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, prayer, and reflection for Muslims.

The recognition of Ramadan and Eid has changed significantly since I was a child. For example, most high streets shops will now offer Ramadan related clothing and food at the onset of the month. While I welcome inclusion of all faiths in all aspects of society, I do want to ensure the spirit of Ramadan and Eid is not lost. This year as a family we made some changes to try to focus on growth. Instead of Ramadan advent calendars for each child, we had one calendar which contained a small chocolate treat together with a positive affirmation. The children were responsible for deciding which sibling would get the treat for that day and, of course, they were required to give reasons. They were initially resistant to the change but have now embraced it, bonding over who gets chosen and pondering over the positive affirmations. As we reach the end of Ramadan, the sweet treat has now taken a back seat.

Eid is a time of joy, compassion, and community. It is a time when we come together with family and friends, to celebrate the end of Ramadan and to express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. In our household, the celebration begins by special prayers in the morning and acts of charity, which hold spiritual and social significance. Of course, no celebration is complete without food and after fasting for 30 days, only a feast will do.

One of the most important aspects of Eid is the congregational prayer that takes place early in the morning on the day of Eid. Families will gather in mosques or open spaces, dressed in their finest clothes, to offer special prayers called Salat-al-Eid. The atmosphere is filled with a sense of unity, as people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds come together to pray, exchange greetings and embrace one another. This Eid prayer fosters a sense of community among Muslims, transcending social, economic, and cultural differences.

Another significant aspect of Eid is the act of giving and sharing. Muslims are encouraged to practice acts of charity, known as Zakat-al-Fitr or Sadaqat-al-Fitr. This involves giving a specific amount of money or food to those in need, so that they too can participate in the joy of Eid. This charitable practice is a reminder of the importance of social responsibility and caring for those in need, regardless of their background or beliefs.

In our home, food plays a central role in Eid celebrations. After the morning prayers, as a family we will come together to prepare and share special dishes with loved ones and neighbours. Traditional delicacies and sweets are prepared and our home is decorated with lights and colourful ornaments. The women of the family enjoy decorating their hands with henna. The aroma of mouth-watering dishes fills the air, and the sound of laughter and conversation resonates in households and communities. These gatherings are full of joy and warmth which strengthen familial bonds and promote a sense of cultural identity.

Eid is a time for Muslims to express gratitude to Allah (God) for the blessings in their lives. It is a time for introspection, reflection, and renewal of faith. Muslims are encouraged to seek forgiveness, reconcile with others, and let go of grudges or resentments. It is a time to promote peace and harmony, within oneself and with others.

This Ramadan has been an opportunity of reflection, renewal and gratitude for me. It is my first Ramadan since I took up my role as a District Judge and I have been struck with the kindness and consideration my colleagues and court staff have displayed when I have been fasting. Valuing our diverse needs adds to the sense of belonging we feel in our workplaces.

I wish all my colleagues a blessed and joyous Eid.