Modern day Muslim parents should take note: we should not unnecessarily reprimand or scold children when they are enjoying themselves on ‘Eid.
“’Eid is really just for children,” I often heard adults say with a sigh on the ‘Eid days of my childhood. I sprinted around gleefully, tinkering repeatedly with my glittery glass bangles and smelling my palms to inhale the mahogany henna patterns adorning them. I’d be twirling round and round in front of the dresser mirrors, admiring the swathes of embroidered or frilled chiffon and silk that cascaded down towards my colour-coordinated shoes. Cakes, sweetmeats and juice were amply and endlessly on offer, and everyone would sit around leisurely, chatting away in a good mood, decked up indulgently in sparkling new outfits, exchanging hugs, smiles and jokes as unannounced visitors keep dropping in. Festivities would last throughout the day, and it was all I could do to not sing at the top of my voice, wishing that ‘Eid would never come to an end!
Indeed, for children to be allowed to eat, drink and be merry, to sing at the top of their voices (okay, maybe not that loud) and to enjoy themselves as much as possible in every permissible way during the days of ‘Eid, is a sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (SAW):
`A’isha narrated that during the days of Mina, on the day of ‘Eid al-Adha, two girls were with her, singing and playing on a hand drum. The Prophet (SAW) was present, listening to them with his head under a shawl. Abu Bakr (RA) then entered and scolded the girls. The Prophet (SAW), uncovering his face, told him, “Let them be, Abu Bakr. These are the days of ‘Eid.” (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)
It is obvious from the narration above that the Prophet (SAW) was completely relaxed on the day of ‘Eid while he was with his young wife ‘A’isha, and didn’t object to minor-aged girls singing and beating the duff in his company. This hadith indicates that families should spend ‘Eid together, with special emphasis on letting young children be in the company of adults. Not just that, but the latter should encourage them to sing, beat the duff if they want to, and be merry.
A basic jurisprudential principle is that our Prophet’s silence regarding something that was done in his presence was an indication of his approval, sanctioning the Islamic permissibility of that action. He spoke to reprimand only when required, and only as much as was needed. In light of the above hadith, modern day Muslim parents should take note: we should not unnecessarily reprimand or scold children when they are enjoying themselves on ‘Eid.
The only thing adults need to be cautious about in this regard however, is to prevent Allah’s laws and limits from being crossed during the merrymaking on ‘Eid. This is apparent from the praiseworthy protectiveness of Abu Bakr (RA); a distinguishing trademark of all the Prophet’s closest companions. Perhaps Abu Bakr’s reason for scolding the little girls was his doubt about the permissibility of the somewhat frivolous nature of their singing. However, the fact that the Prophet (SAW) asked Abu Bakr (RA) to let them be, displays the easy attitude that we, as adults, should have towards children’s fun and enjoyment during the days of ‘Eid.
That being said, we should still use discretion when controlling the kinds of merrymaking we allow our children to indulge in on ‘Eid. Another hadith, quoted below, details the singing of little girls in front of the Prophet r at a wedding, which is also an occasion of celebration and joyous expression in Islam. The Prophet (SAW) spoke up to disallow them from singing lyrics that were impermissible:
Narrated by Ar-Rabi` (the daughter of Muawwidh bin Afra), “After the consummation of my marriage, the Prophet (SAW) came and sat on my bed as far from me as you are sitting now, and our little girls started beating the duffs and reciting elegiac verses mourning my father who had been killed in the battle of Badr. One of them said, “Among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen tomorrow.” On that, the Prophet (SAW) said, “Leave this (saying) and keep on saying the verses which you had been saying before.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Adults should hence control the lyrics and words of the songs that children sing on ‘Eid, and forbid the use of any other musical instruments besides the duff. They should also be careful that the family’s occupation in permissible enjoyment does not undermine the quality and timeliness of obligatory worship, primarily the five daily prayers.
During and after ‘Eid, families should also to continue adhere the routine of any recommended acts of worship that they had established during the iman-infused month of Ramadhan, such as daily Qur’an recitation or memorisation and small acts of charity, such as feeding others. The culmination of Ramadhan with merrymaking activities on ‘Eid should not cause the abrogation of supererogatory good deeds.
This will be possible only when adults monitor the ‘Eid activities of children to ensure that they stay within the bounds of moderation.
Another interesting fact we glean from the above ahadith regarding enjoyment on ‘Eid, is how comfortable and uninhibited children felt around the Prophet (SAW); they were relaxed enough to sing songs in his presence! We should try to develop a similar persona. We should ask ourselves, ‘Do little children feel comfortable and unintimidated in my company? Would little girls sing in my presence, or would they feel too shy or scared to express their happiness?’
In addition, we see that our Prophet (SAW) spent time with his wife at home on ‘Eid, relaxing with a shawl over himself with young girls singing nearby. That is how Muslim husbands should spend ‘Eid too: by meeting relatives, neighbours and others in the community at ‘Eid prayer, but not getting so involved in social calls with friends and acquaintances, that they end up spending ‘Eid rushing from one party to another, unable to relax and spend quality downtime with their own parents, spouses, children and siblings.
Lastly, Muslims all over the world should remember that reverts and new Muslims usually have no one to spend the ‘Eid festivities with, because their extended families are still non-Muslim. They can feel quite lonely and left out after the ‘Eid prayer is over, especially if they are single and residing in a non-Muslim majority country. Inviting at least one new Muslim in your community to your family’s ‘Eid banquet can make this festive occasion a memorable one for them. They will then, insha Allah, also take away vibrant, colourful memories of ‘Eid celebrations spent with jovial families and friends, having partaken in fun, food and frolics.
Sadaf Farooqi hopes that she is able to continue the legacy of making lovely, happy memories of the days of ‘Eid for the children in her family.