Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed – lessons in generosity at Eid-al-Adha


A woman offers Eid-al-Adha prayers. The Festival of Sacrifice, which marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, commemorates Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son to show obedience to God.

ARIF ALI / AFP/Getty Images

From a local pastor’s offering of an outdoor space for prayer to a remark from my mother that I have never forgotten, I feel blessed.

It was the best of times, Eid. It was the worst of times, the pandemic. Friday, I’ll be joining about 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide in celebrating Eid-al-Adha, COVID-19 style. Our family will get dressed up in our finest, decorate our home, exchange gifts and pray — at a church.

About Fariha
Fariha is a town and a nagar panchayat in Firozabad district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed: Lessons in generosity at Eid-al-Adha

About Naqvi-Mohamed:

No, you did not misread that. I will be praying at a church. With the government restrictions limiting the assembly of gatherings to 50 people, space inside mosques is limited. As such, many have been trying to think outside of the proverbial box. If you’ve been reading my column for long enough, you’ll know that I am a passionate ambassador for building bridges between communities and interfaith harmony. As such, I was recently speaking with a pastor at a local church. We were discussing how we could keep our respective communities safe during this pandemic. The topic of praying our Eid prayers came up and our struggle to find sufficient space to accommodate an outdoor prayer. This very gracious, kind and welcoming pastor offered us the use of the lawn at their church to pray. This generosity brought tears to my eyes, a reminder that what matters at the end of the day is our common humanity. As we enter Day 9,999 of this pandemic (clearly, I have lost count), it is easy to lose sight of so many things. Our humanity should not be one of them.

Eid-al-Adha is the second and more significant of the two Islamic holidays celebrated around the world. The first being Eid-al-Fitr. The holiday honours Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael in obedience of God’s command. Before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In the Muslim faith, in commemoration of this intervention, an animal is sacrificed (usually a sheep, though sometimes lamb, goat or cow) and divided into three parts. One part is given to the poor and needy. Another is kept for home, and the third is distributed to relatives. This is an important tradition for Muslims around the world.

Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed: Lessons in generosity at Eid-al-Adha

As a child, I remember my parents driving us to an orphanage to donate meat from our Eid sacrifice. I remember it being a hot day, and in my annoying eight-year-old self, I kept complaining about how hot and uncomfortable I was.

I remember my mom leaning over and asking, “you know how you want to go home?”

To which I responded, “yes.”

“You see all these kids here? This is their home. They do not have mommies or daddies to complain to. This is why we brought our meat to them so that they can have nicer meals.”

That moment, and the discomfort I felt first from the heat, then from the reality of the kids around me, is still etched in my mind decades later. Now I try to impart the same charitable spirit to my children.

Locally, Eid is being celebrated differently due to COVID-19, with most taking advantage of the excellent weather to meet friends and family outdoors. It is a sobering time for all those who have lost a loved one to the pandemic or otherwise.

Amid these strange and dark times, I am encouraged by the kindness and generosity of a local pastor whose religion I do not share, but whose humanity and compassion is profoundly moving. I am moved by the countless acts of charity and giving that I see in our community regularly assisting those who have been affected by this virus in one way or another. I feel blessed to experience another Eid with my family and loved ones and in this case, to be praying at a church.

Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed is the founder and editor in chief of CanadianMomEh.com, a lifestyle blog.