As the Islamic Calendar pages turn with each moon that passes, we are quickly approaching the end of the Islamic year. During the coming days many of our sisters and brothers will be graced with the opportunity of making Hajj to the Holy city of Makkah. Those of us not embarking upon the pilgrimage may be commencing preparations for our Eid ul-Adha celebrations.
The extravagant and commercialized methods of exploiting the Christian feasts are often hard to ignore. What is unfortunate is that the ill approach which is taken to 'celebrating' these festivals (equally shunned by true Christians) makes its way easily into the schools where classrooms are a mix of many diverse children from a rainbow of cultures. Knowing that many children may not celebrate or be familiar with the Christian celebrations, a pagan approach is often taken to the festivities involving elements of nature and child-friendly icons children are drawn to – bunnies, flowers, and above all CHOCOLATE! The media and the chocolate manufacturers see that no household is forgotten in their marketing.
For children of Muslim families who may be among minorities in their schools where Easter celebrations are taking place it may be difficult to keep from feeling left out. Alhamdu lillah, Allah has granted mankind two Eids where we are encouraged to celebrate joyously with friends and family. We are reminded not to go to extremes with waste, yet we are encouraged to worship, eat, remember the poor, sing and thank our Creator with joy for His blessings upon us.
The predominant society will also be in a festive mood for Easter around Eid. It is a good idea to ensure that our children do not feel left out. One way we can accomplish this is by reaching out to the classrooms of our children.
Below you will find two letters, which may be customized and sent to your child's teacher. Letter 1 makes an attempt:
(1) to educate school staff about the importance of family life in Islam and
(2) requesting the teacher to excuse Muslim children for the upcoming Eid.
Building upon the request to withdraw children from school during Eid , Letter 2 additionally suggests that parents, children and teachers work together to present a short lesson on the importance of Eid-ul-Adha to their classmates. What better way to enjoy Eid than to make Dawa and invite non-Muslims to enjoy the celebration as well? What better way to help our Muslim children feel a sense of self worth and a feeling of confidence in their faith than to have them share with their friends about the importance of Hajj and the concept of sacrifice.
Suggested ideas for a classroom presentation may include:
- Inform classmates about the Oneness of Allah and the message of His last Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
- Relaying the story of the Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) and the sacrifice he was asked to make by Allah.
- Talking about the idea of charity and how Muslims are urged to give to the poor during the days of Eid.
- Discuss how Eid is celebrated in a Muslim home. Bring examples of cultural dress from the Muslim world and weave in concepts of modesty in dress, bring special foods to share with the class, have a tape player with Islamic songs to liven up the classroom.
- Bring a video that talks about Hajj or read a poem about the holy pilgrimage to Makkah.
- Describe Hajj to your class and explain about the diversity of Muslims around the world who come together and worship.
Photo Attribution: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Eid_ul-adha#mediaviewer/File:Flickr_-_DVIDSHUB_-_International_brothers,_sisters_in_faith_gather_at_Kandahar_Air_Field_for_Eid_al-Adha_(Image_1_of_10).jpg