The world can be fright­en­ing, but don’t lose sight of your hope this Eid

The National - News - - OPINION - SHELINA JANMOHAMED Shelina Janmohamed is the au­thor of Love in a Head­scarf and Gen­er­a­tion M: Young Mus­lims Chang­ing the World

He may have in­sti­tuted a widely re­viled “Mus­lim ban” and en­cour­aged the rise of white su­prem­a­cists, but Don­ald Trump might just have given us an early Eid gift this year.

This week, the US Pres­i­dent and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had a his­toric hand­shake and signed an agree­ment to move for­ward with peace.

While it’s not en­tirely clear that the agree­ment of­fers us any­thing new, the sig­nif­i­cance of the pho­to­graphs, the to­geth­er­ness and the seem­ing agree­ment might her­ald a new fu­ture.

And after all, isn’t that what Eid is all about: the re­newal of hope, for­giv­ing the sins of the past and start­ing afresh? Eid Mubarak Don­ald and Kim.

For many of us, the last 12 months have felt tu­mul­tuous and of­ten fright­en­ing. This week we mark the an­niver­sary of the tragic Gren­fell Tower fire. Whether in Syria, Ye­men, Pales­tine, Gu­atemala or Bangladesh, the heart­break­ing hor­rors of war are seem­ingly never-end­ing.

So even though this is a small ges­ture, it hap­pens to be per­fectly timed to give us all a bit of an Eid present. It might be just the gift of hope we’ve all been seek­ing.

Even the Tal­iban have got that fes­tive Eid feel­ing. For the first time ever, they’ve agreed to a cease­fire, which will ex­tend for three days of Eid. Per­haps, like me, they are keen to resume their morn­ing cof­fee rou­tine.

It should not ex­cul­pate them of the blood­shed they have caused. But on Eid we need to think nice thoughts about peo­ple. Should we have hope?

The Tal­iban don’t seem to be fully em­brac­ing the Eid spirit though be­cause while they might be lay­ing down arms, that won’t be the case when they are fac­ing US troops in Afghanistan.

But Eid is for ev­ery­one. It is about tak­ing a mo­ment of pause in a chaotic world to think about the ba­sic hu­man de­lights and joy the pe­riod gen­er­ates.

It is about bring­ing the fam­ily to­gether and cel­e­brat­ing all the good­ness of the hu­man con­di­tion. It is about the unadul­ter­ated de­light of chil­dren that re­minds us of the pu­rity of love and youth.

It’s about the rush of a sip of caf­feine, about re­mem­ber­ing the taste of food. It is about spir­i­tual re­newal, the in­ten­tion to im­prove and do good.

It is about hope, about how re­set­ting our in­di­vid­ual lives can con­trib­ute to a bet­ter world.

But even in the joy and cel­e­bra­tion, the world can still be a dark place ca­pa­ble of wor­ry­ing or scar­ing us. We must not for­get that Eid is not about su­per­fi­cial de­lights such as high-calo­rie cakes, se­quined gowns and fat­ten­ing birya­nis. And while baklava might be melt­ing on our lips and the morn­ing cup of cof­fee might be cours­ing through our veins, the re­minders of those who do not have ac­cess to food, shel­ter, health­care, warmth or se­cu­rity should be at the front of our minds. Eid is the be­gin­ning of the be­gin­ning.

While we can hope that hand­shakes be­tween world lead­ers and photo op­por­tu­ni­ties will bring us peace, the thing to re­mem­ber about Eid is that it is far more than a show. Rather, it’s about deep change, re­morse and restart­ing.

It’s not about pat­ting our­selves on the back, but mov­ing for­ward in a dif­fer­ent way.

I’m hope­ful. We should al­ways be hope­ful. But Eid is a time when our joy and cel­e­bra­tion can be in­con­gru­ous with a world in which many peo­ple don’t have that safety and se­cu­rity. We should look past the head­lines and glossy im­ages.

Closer to home, we may as­sume that ev­ery­one is hav­ing the Eid that we are en­joy­ing. But lone­li­ness, poverty and men­tal health is­sues might lie be­hind the smiles that sur­round us, hid­ing sor­rows and pain that we can’t imag­ine. They might mask what was lost in the past, or the suf­fer­ing that is on­go­ing.

And when we smile on Eid, we don’t know what the fu­ture holds.

But we know what we can bring to it – hope, and hard work for the com­ing year, to rise above where we cur­rently are. So hold your loved ones close and your hope even closer. And share love wher­ever you go. Eid Mubarak.

Eid is more than a show. Rather, it is about deep change, re­morse and restart­ing; a time to move for­ward in a dif­fer­ent way

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