Dear Muslim MIT
Wishing a happy Eid from me to you
Dear Muslim MIT,
I wanted to wish you a happy Eid. Tomorrow I have an exam to sit for about three hours, and you know, sometimes things are just like that. It’s just very exhausting being a Muslim student and knowing people don’t get it. Fasting for Ramadan while classes continue as normal. I’m in three night classes that go through iftar, the first time I can eat or drink in the day, and it is difficult. “Not even water?” I’m asked, and I smile and say it isn’t as bad as it sounds. And it's not. At least not in the way they think. It’s bad in that I miss home.
I miss eating sambusa hand-folded by my mother and aunts. I miss praying taraweeh with all my cousins and sometimes leading it with my wavering voice and often rushed short surahs. I miss hugging my grandma and wearing lots of kohl because that’s the only makeup I could get away with putting on. I miss catching my mom in quiet moments repeating prayers with her tasbeeh absentmindedly. I miss having iftar dinners at overflowing tables that spilled onto a few sufras on the floor. I miss those Ramadan-specific meals like shorba and luqamat. I miss noticing my parents loosening my curfew so I could stay out later. I miss those shared late-night suhoors with friends learning about how their families did things. I miss competing with my cousins over who could finish our recitation of the Quran first, who could do it multiple times over, even, and knowing we could never beat our grandma. I miss the smells of Ramadan at home. I miss giddily setting up times to get my hands decorated in henna and getting my brows done in time for Eid. I miss Eid prayer by the Red Sea, tasting salt in the air and hearing waves crash as I connected with God. I miss the first breakfast at my grandma’s house and how everything on Eid morning just tastes that much better. I miss seeing everyone in their Eid best outfits and Eid best smiles. I miss joking to my cousins just a few years older about waiting for an Eidiyah that stopped coming a few years ago. I miss fighting off younger cousins asking for theirs. I miss batting away, abashedly, at my grandma, who would still sneak me a little, letting me know she hasn’t forgotten. I miss comparing our Eidiyah loots at the end of the night to see who went to the most families. I miss the biriyani in a large siniya that we would sit around and eat together. Quick hands grabbing the best pieces of meat. I miss seeing how alive the city was at those late hours of the night. I miss praying taraweeh in unison at the masjid, standing arm to arm, and reading along in chorus. To this day, the sound of takbirat reminds me of Eid. I miss the smells of the newly concocted ouds and bukhoors from my mother’s room. I miss smelling them in her wake. I miss going to Makkah in the early hours of the morning. Spirituality feeling like an act of togetherness, that joined aloneness with God. I miss the deep feeling of calmness in knowing we were all there sharing our hopes and dreams with Him. I miss my family.
I was asked recently what Ramadan means to me, and honestly it means family. Right now, all I feel is the void of me not being with them. Instead I sit in my current apartment, averting my eyes from psets undone and projects waiting to be assembled. Instead I sit scratching my head at yet another finals season alone without the comforting and safe embrace of family.
I hope your Eid can be filled with barakah and joy. I hope my nostalgia brings you comfort in knowing it’s not just you. I hope you can find small pockets of community here to feel less alone.
Eid Mubarak, Eid Sa3eed, Kul Sana Wa Antom Tayeb, Min al 3aideen,