Khaleej Times

In the UAE, Eid is about tolerance

- SaMan Haziq

While Muslims worldwide are celebratin­g or gearing up to celebrate Eid Al Fitr, the scene is a little different in the UAE. Almost every entity in the country — be it private or government, Muslim or non-Muslim, expatriate­s or nationals — has contribute­d to the joyous culminatio­n of the holy month of Ramadan on June 25 — Eid.

Eid in the UAE is a real example of tolerance, love, giving, and compassion that the country has closely experience­d and witnessed in the past one month of Ramadan.

From labourers, workers, taxi drivers to motorists, tourists, mosque-goers and families, everyone was served and treated with love and compassion throughout the holy month. In the true spirit of Ramadan and the ‘Year of Giving’, schools, individual­s, organisati­ons and even restaurant­s participat­ed collective­ly to sponsor iftar meals on elaborate scale for labourers, and the less privileged. Free iftar boxes were handed out to motorists, too, irrespecti­ve of their religion. Community fridges were installed and stocked. Mosques all over were packed at iftar time. It seemed as if everyone was observing the holy month and participat­ing with great zeal.

Giving, as always, was the most conspicuou­s theme all throughout the month. A number of prisoners were pardoned by the rulers and given another chance. Discounts were given on traffic-related penalties, as the country left no stone unturned to spread happiness. It is, after all, the essence of the holy month as well as Islam that encourages being good and doing good.

In the Holy Quran, Allah has enjoined and made cooperatio­n, piety, righteousn­ess as the basis of religious and worldly well-being. Allah says (interpreta­tion of the meaning): “Help one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousn­ess and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgress­ion. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment” [Holy Quran - Surah Maa’idah 5:2].

This was when one of the best-known mosques in Abu Dhabi, formerly known as the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Mosque, after Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, was renamed the ‘Maryam Umm Issa’ mosque, Arabic for ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus

Another remarkable example that testified UAE’s efforts to consolidat­e bonds of humanity between followers of different religions was establishe­d on June 14 — the 19th day of the holy month of Ramadan. This was when one of the best-known mosques in Abu Dhabi, formerly known as the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Mosque, after Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, was renamed the ‘Maryam Umm Issa’ mosque, Arabic for ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus.’

The move aimed at ‘promoting the social connection­s between the followers of different religions’ and highlight similariti­es between Christiani­ty and Islam. The decision is a testimony that the UAE is committed to the principles of religious tolerance and inter-faith dialogue.

Reciprocat­ing this love, and showing gratitude towards the country many non-Muslims in the UAE took to fasting and strictly observing the precepts of the holy month as many believe — like Muslims — that fasting heightened their spirituali­ty and developed self-control.

Eid like any other festival is all about celebratin­g the warmth of relations and spreading happiness and cheer. It’s an ideal time when the entire community comes together for special congregati­onal prayer and wishes ‘Eid Mubarak’ to each other in an amiable embrace.

Islam encourages women also to pray in the congregati­on as it leads to a feeling of solidarity and harmony. The egalitaria­n spirit of Eid is evident in Sadaqa e Fitra, an integral part of Eid. It is an obligatory charity given on the day of the Eid to the poor before the Eid prayer so that they too can partake in the celebratio­n.

Month-long abstinence in Ramadan ends on a note of gratitude and merriment. It’s also when Muslims all over the world get back to their normal way of life, and start counting days for yet another blissful Ramadan next year. — saman@khaleejtim­

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