Joys of Eid are hushed this time round because of the ongoing war and suffering in the neighbouring Afghanistan and violence in Palestine
People are in a festive mood to spend sparingly on new clothes, sweets, and gifts to greet the Eid till their wallets are empty. Sweets are on display in every nook and corner of market places in addition to the regular sale points like sweatshops, confectioneries and bakeries. The colourful exhibitions resonate the mood. Eid is a sacred festival to mark the end of one month fasting of holy Ramadan. This has become a cultural occasion too with a lot of dimensions-meeting the relatives and loved ones, presenting gifts to them, particularly children. People look forward to this festival with a lot of fervour and zeal.
The festive mood varies from family-to-family in the country and it is not the same in all the other countries as well. The resources of the families have shrunk and more poor are seen on the streets begging. This is substantiated by the fact that one can see more people sleeping on green belts and corridors of markets in comparison to yesteryears. There is definite decline in sale. "Now people come to shop under compulsion." Says a shopkeeper in the busy bazaar of Anarkali. "They would only purchase what could save them from the humiliation on the Eid day and nothing superfluous is added to the shopping list which used to be a normal thing in past," he maintained. Mian Arshad, a typist in a public office, says that he has to work about 14 hours a day (working part-time with a lawyer) and only earns which could feed his family. "I start savings, cutting expenses on the essentials even, at least five months prior to the Eid. At the time of festival, I have enough money to please my kids who are given only one suit and a pair of boots. The usual sweets are obviously included in the Eid menus but nothing extra is given," says Arshad making a desperate effort to bring smile on his face. Last Eid-ul-Azha was the first Eid when he did not have the sacrificial animal at his home and his daughter still feels bad about that Eid. But despite the festivities, Muslims all over the world strongly believe that they are both misunderstood and misrepresented in the international forums causing an immense damage to their image. This indulgence on the part vested interests do not stop short of stigmatising Islam even. In the United Kingdom, during the first Gulf War, there was a backlash against Muslims-women wearing headscarves were shouted at in the streets. People who were obviously of Arab background were not given equal job opportunities.
"It was a disappointment how during Ramadan the attack was carried out though it should have been seen as an attack on Muslims, not on Saddam Hussein only. The damage was being done to ordinary citizens who have children to feed," says a professor of Islamic History in a local college. "But the image of Saddam Hussein was used by the media to encourage anti-Muslim feeling. Islamophobia is being talked about, but Muslims really need to be given the opportunity to be heard for that to be dispelled," he avers. But there are quite a large number of people who even do not have the capacity to afford any of the luxuries, which an ordinary human being would be enjoying. Bangles can be their proudest possession, and a few won't be able to purchase these. They would be looking towards us and we are definitely in a position to give them the least to be happy the whole day.
Looking beyond our own borders, we can see suffering Muslims across the globe. The recent horrendous tragedy is that of Afghanistan where the Afghans are going through immense sufferings and they have not reached the final phase where one could see them settled. Kashmiris, Palestinians and Chechens are in no less pain. Though the world has forgotten Iraqis where the situation for the surviving children and mothers is still worst. This grave adversity has been over-shadowed by the tragedies elsewhere.
Considering this picture of the world, the Muslim world is dipped in darkness and sufferings. The rest of the Muslim Ummah should be looking for ways to help their brethren in trouble. It is not the first Eidul-Fitr when the Muslims are in misery, but it seems as if they are being pushed into this quagmire more vigorously as ever before. The Israelis are ruthlessly killing the unarmed Palestinians and the world is keeping cruel silence. The Afghans, Kashmiris and Chechens are looking towards their brethren and human right activists to help them in mitigating their sufferings, and they may be in a position to celebrate their Eid as we are pleasing ourselves today.