By Farahnaz Zahidi Published: August 8, 2013
Maybe it’s time for the men to rethink; maybe it’s time Pakistani women head for Eid namaz in Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP
Once upon a time, Ammi used to have a list of exciting chores ready for her girls when Eid day arrived. This was the drill: Abba and brothers go for Eid namaz, and while they are gone, we, the women, had to make taaza (fresh) sheer khorma, change bed linen and table cloths (it was some family ritual, I think), get ready, pray the short Eid namaz at home, and be happily ready for the guys to return and give us Eidi.
On Bari Eid (Eidul Azha), a slight modification would be to get ready after the meat was distributed and done with; however, the rest remained the same.
It was all lovely. I am thankful that my mother made sure Eid was splendidly exciting for our family, and that we didn’t spend Eid morning catching up on sleep.
Just one thing was sorely missing in these otherwise lovely, fun family mornings of this most important festival. Like a majority of Pakistani women, we never went for Eid namaz.
We, culturally, do not think about traditions; we just follow them. Often, we don’t even know why we are doing a certain thing. We just do it because everyone else does. And so for the longest time, I never really questioned why we celebrated Eid. The emphasis was on the festivity and celebration, not on why it was such a big deal, just like we prepare for months and years for the wedding, not the marriage. Somewhere, the essence dwindles away.
That’s what my Eid was like for a long time.
Years later, a friend randomly invited me to come along with her on Eid namaz.
I could not say no because I knew by then through authentic prophetic traditions that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) had in fact strongly advised women to go for Eid namaz and join in the collective prayers of the festival.
And so I went.
It wasn’t easy the first time, in all honesty. My daughter was still young and it was winter time. Dragging a little child out of bed, getting her and myself ready early on Eid morning when your body is already sleep-deprived after a month of interrupted sleep – it wasn’t easy. Also, till then my family wasn’t so convinced this was something very important, which meant I had to drive down myself and find a parking outside a crowded mosque. However, am I glad I went. Since that day, I have never missed the opportunity unless there’s been a serious reason.
I found out what men enjoy there and women miss out on. Raising your hands multiple times till your ears and saying “Allahu Akbar” reminds one of why we are celebrating Eid in the first place. It is a celebration of the fact that this past month, we may have inched closer to our Creator. We may have become better human beings; we may have been forgiven this Ramadan; we may be starting with a clean slate and for that, we thank God and rejoice.
Women who go for Eid namaz regularly know that it is not just a spiritual but also a wonderful social experience. The feeling of togetherness and of a community that is swiftly fading in our fast-paced lives is revived. We greet those we know and we greet those we don’t know, and we don’t really care who makes the first move. We congratulate each other and set out with our families after that to eat, meet, greet and enjoy the blessings God has showered on us.
If you take away the Eid namaz from Eid, there is honestly a sense of disconnect between Ramadan and the rest of the year, starting on Chand Raat. We have this 30-day crash course in connection with the Divine, in charity, in prayers and in goodness, and suddenly, we switch all of that off on Eid morning.
Interestingly, many Pakistani women who have been going for taraweeh throughout Ramadan do not go for Eid namaz. More intriguing is how the same women who regularly go for Eid prayers when abroad do not do so when back home in Pakistan.
While a small but increasing number of Pakistani women are going for Eid namaz to mosques, a majority still don’t. The reasons are predictable; for one, not many mosques have that arrangement. Organisers of mosques will be more open to women’s wings in mosques if more women want to go.
Another reason is simple laziness and time management skills that need improvement. Women who don’t want to miss Eid namaz still make the sheer khorma and still change the linen in a ritualistic manner, but they do it a day before. It also boils down to a lack of awareness about the fact that yes, women are supposed to say their Eid namaz too, just like the men.
Talking of the men – they are often not used to the idea. They don’t mind if their lady was outshopping on Chand Raat till midnight, but will raise their brows quizzically if she says “I want to go for Eid namaz”.
Maybe it’s time for the men to rethink; maybe it’s time Pakistani women head for Eid namaz in Pakistan.
If you are a woman and do decide to go for Eid namaz this time, here are some of the places it will be held at:
- Faisal Mosque, Islamabad
- Jamia Masjid DHA, Sector J, Masjid Chowk, Lahore
- Khalid masjid, Cavalry grounds, Lahore
- Imambargah Yathrab, Phase 4, DHA, Karachi (For Fiqh-e-Jafria)
- Ayesha Masjid, Khayaban-e-Ittehad, Karachi
- Masjid Saad bin Abi Waqqas, Phase 4, DHA, Karachi
- Quran Academy masjid, Seaview, Karachi
- Gulistan-e-Anis, off Shaheed-e-Millat road, Karachi
- Sada bahaar lawn, off Shaheed-e-Millat road, Karachi
- Masjid Bait-us-Salam, Commercial Avenue, phase 4, DHA, Karach