Eid day was great and went without a hitch. Okay, so only part of that statement is true - the first part. As far as days go, it is the best day of the year for Muslims and one makes it what it is themselves. As for the 'without a hitch' fantasy - well, we live in hope.
A lot of people moan the night before Eid, on Eid day and for two whole days after about how Eid has been another cock-up.
Not because they don't enjoy Eid day (believe me, the fun, food and frolics lighten all spirits) but because everyone needs a hot topic for discussion during Eid meals and gatherings. I mean, you can't have aunties ululating all evening can you?
Is Eid Saturday or Sunday?..
Yes, Eid day seems to become more and more controversial by the year but it wouldn't really feel like Eid if everything went perfect, would it? So I'll cheer everyone up by sharing my Eid day, starting with the night before of course (as all good stories do).
Everyone I know prayed for Eid to fall on Sunday, they really did. Especially mosque staff who had only Saturday to prepare things. Imams from various mosques agreed in unity that Eid was on Sunday but if the moon was sighted on Friday night, Eid would be celebrated on Saturday.
It didn't work out as planned. Eid was announced for Saturday by a marginal majority. The Haram or holy first mosque in Mecca announced Eid, then London Central Mosque confirmed accordingly, soon after Birmingham Central Mosque delighted the congregation as it followed suit.
Uproar over Eid day decision...
Worshippers at Central Mosque rushed home while others stayed to tidy the mosque all ready for Eid prayers in the morning. Brothers on the I'thikaf (10 day seclusion) jumped to joy and escaped before you could hand them the hoover. I was devastated considering I was banking on Sunday as I hadn't prepared much at all but then you can't argue with fate (unless it's the name of your bank manager).
In some local mosques the faithful waited in hope of hearing similar news of Eid. When the mosque leaders rejected Saturday, there was uproar as congregations split down the middle and masses stormed out. In one mosque an Imam apparently announced Eid only to be rebuked by the so-called 'committee' of the mosque.
I wonder if Sunday being the day when more people would be off work, in attendance and able to make donations was a contributory factor to the insistence of some to have Eid on Sunday. I have no beef with those who honestly believe that they had accurately determined Eid for Sunday, just those who manipulate Eid day for personal or financial reasons.
Meanwhile, staff at Central Mosque were frantically sticking up signs, preparing facilities, setting answer phone announcements and updating website information. I had a million and one things to do. I rushed around with Ezzat el-Barbary, the mosque web designer, trying to pick up carrier bags from Asda.
The store kindly provided the mosque with over 15,000 bags so that worshippers wouldn't lose their shoes or shopping even though they had a mass of stuff to deal with including Children in Need and Christmas and Diwali shoppers.
Ezz and I were stuck in traffic for ages. I had broken my fast but eaten nothing since. Ezz thought I was getting cranky and needed some food.
After getting back, I ran around the mosque setting displays, tables, access and signs with one of our Ramadhan stewards, Perviz Khan. He's been spending a lot of Ramadhan stewarding at the mosque and keeping kids in line. When he's not throwing kids into wheeley bins…er…I mean stewarding, he likes photography. That very evening he was off to Leicester to enjoy Diwali and take pictures of the celebrations there.
I think I left the mosque with enough time to pop into Asda again and pick up some things for home and for the mosque before getting home and wrapping a few gifts by which time I was completely knocked out at around 3am.
Come morning and I was late, I was supposed to be at the mosque for 6am but with the difficulty of getting a cab after a Friday night, I arrived at the mosque for 6.45am.
Even Perviz who had spent the night celebrating Diwali in Leicester was up and rearing to go. He even looked fresh and all perked up whereas I hadn't even groomed or woken up properly. I didn't even have my special or religious attire on, just what I had from the night before. Eid day went rather well though. A few problems and upsets but overall, very well.
Before the prayers, I sent out text messages to all of my phone contacts wishing them a happy Eid. I got a barrage of thoughtful and celebratory replies and then one condemning my festive greeting. I know that individual's not getting a 'Merry Xmas' from me. Good job I don't get offended easily, even if it was intolerance towards my religious holiday.
Eid at Birmingham Central Mosque...
There were five prayer services held from 8am to 12pm and lead by Shiekh Muhammad Sultan, Hafiz Ahmed Ibrahim Patel, Shiekh Imam Muhammad Ismail al-Rashid, Qari Aziz ur-Rehman and Imam Muhammad Qasim all in Arabic, English, Bengali and Urdu.
The mosque collected Fitrana (charity contribution due before Eid day) for Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, Iraq and Afghanistan while it allowed Islamic relief to collect during each Eid service.
Islamic Relief fundraiser Mohammed Jehangir rallied worshippers to give large donations starting at £2,000 based on an initial single donation. A local businessman who sat at the front of the main hall pledged to double the final amount raised for the charity. The mosque didn't financially benefit from any of the collections but the religious reward for all was no doubt very favourable.
Eid day was good for me ...
Celebrating Eid at Birmingham Central Mosque
Between 15,000 and 20,000 people attended Eid prayers at the city's main mosque. Of them, I think around four people may have understood the term 'one-way' with regards to entrances and exits.
Actually, I shouldn't generalise, maybe it was closer to eight. At the end of the Eid service influx, I had a coffee break, the coppers had tea and biccies (as usual) and everyone cleaned up.
My day ended with me walking along Alum Rock Road in Saltley dodging crazy cars, hoards of police officers and groups of youths who seem to have no sensible way of celebrating Eid unless it involves waving nationalistic flags and setting cars alight.
But I wasn't disheartened by those discourteous silly people, the day was still good for me and that's what counts. Bring on Eid al-Adha.