The Essence of Eid, the Essence of Forgiveness
By A Parhar
Sometimes what we need is a sense of redemption to be able to reach within ourselves and bridge that spiritual connection to our Lord. An opportunity for redemption never comes easy. There are times when it comes at moments that are God-send. Like a miracle or a moment of a miraculous rescue. How else would we be able to acknowledge the enormity of wanting to be redeemed if it wasn’t significant.
There was one true moment of redemption I witnessed which wasn’t one of a dramatic rescue or encountering. But it sure was unforgettable and highly significant. It was on the morning of Eid on one of my first years of embracing the faith. Ahmed welcomed me to his home. There was a spirit of eagerness surrounding his vibrant flat. Siblings running between rooms. Shards of decorative streamers glistening the walls. The radiant colours that filled the furniture covers. You could feel a truly celebrative feeling.
All of a sudden, the delightful embience collected itself into a concentrated moment. Out came Ahmed’s mother and stepdad, dressed in colours of festivity but with displaying a sense of solemness. They sat themslves on the living room chair gathering up an expression that seemed very focussed. The focus moved towards Ahmed and his younger sister quickly coming forth to their parents on a kneeling posture.
Ahmed went first, approaching his mother with his head bowed, gently clasping her hand in his palm, he placed his forehead on her hand holding it still. He started to express some words in Malay of which I could barely make out, starting off slightly audible before his voice started to tremble and quickly descend into a whimper.
‘Maaf’ was the main word I could work out from my poor grasp of Malay. The word ‘Maaf’ always awed me, how with its tone of pronunciation, it carried a strong sense of genuinity. It simply meant ‘sorry’ but this wasn’t a sorry that would simply cover a mis-deed. It was a sorry of true redemption, an outpouring of everything that one would have within, built up over years of what may stretch from the slightest of intention to the biggest of doing.
Tears started to flow between mother and child as the emotional exchanges of words continued. Ahmed always appeared to me as a supportive role model – someone who had direction and took aim in approaching his ambitions. Seeing him in this state was like the pinnacle of my perception of him. It showed me his true human-ness. It also opened to me the most open reflection of unshatterable connection between kith and kin.
I came to understand over years of journeying through this newfound faith that Eid had different resemblances and spirits in different cultures and communities. Being married into a Lebanese family, Eid greetings were accompanied with “Kul antum bil Khair” in Arabic which means “Every year may you be in goodness” and the vibe represented one of well-wishing. The Malay community from which my journey began, lay strong emphasis on seeking forgiveness from others as a pivotal aspect of Eid greeting. People would gently hold their hands to their hearts or gently kiss the hands of their elders with mention of “Maaf zahir batin” which translates as ‘Forgive me internally and externally’.
The aspect of seeking forgiveness from others on this glorious day fulfilled a deep and complete purpose. 30 days of fasting served its meaning when it closed into the break of a celebration. I found a meaning to celebrate the ability to redeem myself for my wrongdoings, my fallibility and my weakness because it was an avenue to bridge that relationship to our Most Perfect Creator. And more importantly it was something I could only find in the noble actions and heartful expressions of others that reflected it.
The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Allah, Blessed and Exalted is He, says, ‘O son of Adam, as long as you call on Me, I shall forgive you of what you have done, and think nothing of it. O son of Adam, even if your sins were to reach up to the clouds in the sky, and then you were to ask for My forgiveness, I would forgive you and think nothing of it. O son of Adam, even if you were to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, and then you were to meet Me after death, not worshipping anything besides Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as the earth.’” [Tirmidhi]
May Allah accept the slightest of our approach to seek His All-encompassing Forgiveness!