As Eid month draws to a close, it seems fitting that we write about the concept of ‘celebration’ in Islam. Islam is not seen as a ‘fun faith’ by many due to the overload of media images which portray Muslims as an angry lot, constantly enraged by various machinations (mostly by the West and Israel). It is not easy to see ‘happy go lucky’ when the media images of Muslims see them burning down embassies and carrying supremacist placards. Just google ‘ Islamic rage boy’ and have a look. You’ll be hard pressed to see this guy as good company. Media portrayal of course ,and a biased one at that, but was very successful in generating the desired response: Islamophobia.
And what about Quran? Quran , in our reading , is a very universalist book. It does
not have a set celebration even for Muslims. Not even for Ramadhan. This doesn’t make any
celebration forbidden though. Chapter 22 Verse 67 tells us to respect the fact the every ummah
has its own rites and rituals (manasik) and that we are not to interfere with them.
Quran rather looks at life differently. It does not set aside a special day for celebrations
perhaps because celebration is an integral part of everyday life. The beginning aya of Quran
itself, it can be said, is one of celebration. The aya , Alhamdu lillahi rabb al alameen
(The praise is for Allah lord of the worlds) is known to all Muslims as they recite it in their prayers a number of times a day. This statement is also shortened to simply Alhamdu lillah and used to express thankfulness.
The real weight of this statement however, can be discerned from its usage in the
Quran itself. A notable example would be in the story of *nuh* in 23/28 which shows
that upon being saved from the flood, Allah instructs Nuh to say Alhamdu lillah. The intensity
of this situation can easily be felt by putting oneself in Nuh’s place. One must surely be awash
with joy, relief and thankfulness after being delivered. That is the experience of
Another notable example is the utterance or perhaps even exclamation when those who
Have been righteous have been delivered into the garden in 7/43. Once again we can
see the extraordinary nature of the event which calls for this special exclamation. Alhamdu lillah
is an experience and we are encouraged to remind ourselves of this experience on a daily basis.
Another concept which conveys the notion of celebration is shukr or thankfulness or gratefulness. The weight of this concept can be understood be from its opposite which is kufr or concealment as evident from 2/152. Muslims fear kufr because it is the undoing of their faith. It is therefore paramount for them to be grateful in all levels of their being. Every experience should be thanked as it helps us grow in some way. Shukr should also be expressed to people,
not just to Allah. Chapter 31 Verse 14 tells us to be grateful to Allah and to our parents
. It is very interesting that shukr be expressed both to Allah and to our parents. Perhaps it is by showing gratefulness to our parents, we are showing gratefulness to Allah himself?
Another thing one should be grateful for perhaps worth remembering in the spirit of Ramadhan
is the revelation one receives due to living in abstinence. 2/185 calls the coming
of revelation as guidance in one’s own life as something to be grateful for (the closing phrase is la’allakum tashkuroon, that you may be grateful). Therefore, this
positive feeling is linked with our connection to Allah himself. It seems evident that although Muslims lack a specific divinely man dated celebration, they are free to join in any kind of celebration people have. More importantly however, is the need to celebrate life on a daily basis. We are to be in a state of hamd and shukr as much as we can in order to suck the marrow out of life, as it were. It is the attitude we need to live life to the full.