RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Technology Helps Muslims Celebrate `Eid

By Amel Abdullah
A popular expression says, "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." For many Muslims celebrating `Eid Al-Adha away from family, friends, or community, that window is the Internet.

"My community does not have an outreach [program] to the elderly or disabled," said Linda D. Delgado, founder of the Islamic Writers Alliance, referring to those who cannot make it to prayers at the mosque or community picnics and dinners. "I am pretty much homebound with my disabilities, and the Internet is my way to 'greet' other Muslims on `Eid."

Delgado, a retired police officer who lives in Tempe, Arizona, reverted to Islam at the age of 52, after hosting two police officers from Saudi Arabia in her home nearly eight years ago. After praying the `Eid prayer at home, she likes listening to the adthan and spends part of the day sending e-cards to what she calls her Muslim "cyber-family" of friends online.

One of Delgado's most pleasant `Eid memories happened when a cyber-friend sent her a set of pictures drawn by her children. "They were drawings of themselves - little children stick-like people waving at me and saying 'Happy `Eid, Auntie.' I put them up on my walls every year for `Eid."

`Eid and Dawah
"Use of the Internet has definitely benefited us as Muslims in our effort to bring about a better understanding."

Sheikh Yusuf Estes, a former Christian preacher and retired chaplain for the US Bureau of Prisons who is now active in dawah (inviting of Islam), uses the Internet to reach out to people around the globe. To date, he has registered more than 4,300 domain names, including, which provides a venue for people to learn about Islam in a carefully moderated "live" environment. The chatroom is open year-round, including the days of `Eid.

"People come from all around the world to congratulate each other," said a web designer to who works closely with Sheikh Estes on his sites and preferred to remain anonymous. "We've had instances where there were some reverts who didn't have any mosques around their towns. They would spend their time in the chatroom, where they could meet more Muslims."

Sheikh Estes uses different methods on his sites to make the practice of Islam fun and accessible. At, for example, one can print out a list of good deeds that are recommend for Muslims to perform on the occasion of `Eid. "Bring joy to your surroundings," reads one item on the list, "The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had an excellent sense of humor and was often found putting a smile on another person's face."

"Use of the Internet has definitely benefited us as Muslims in our effort to bring about a better understanding, not only for [non-Muslims and those new to Islam], but also for those who were born into Islam, as well," Sheikh Estes told

"The world wide web has proven to me time and again how very inexpensive it is to provide our side of the story for folks all around the world. It does take some time, imagination, creative ability, artistic design, hours of sitting and typing, constant daily updating, and a whole lot of patience at the same time. But, when you consider the rewards both here and Hereafter, you can't find a better deal anywhere."

Blogging and Multimedia
Like Sheikh Estes, who uses a combination of text, audio, and video (including live conferencing) to connect with the visitors to his sites, many Muslims find that the Internet offers a creative outlet that may include blogging about the `Eid and other events. Irfan Rydhan, for example, is a media representative for the South Bay Islamic Association (SBIA) in California and a blogger for, posting articles and `Eid video clips showing SBIA activities. These might include carnival rides, games, animal shows, and puppet shows.

From the media perspective, said Rydhan, the clips help show both Muslims and non-Muslims Muslims that "`Eid is a special day and a time to spend with family and friends to enjoy good food and times together."

Before the `Eid even starts, Rydhan, like thousands of other Muslims, visits crescent-monitoring sites to confirm the sighting of the crescent moon that signals the start of a new lunar month. He then uses tools like Facebook, text messaging, and regular e-mail to inform family and friends that the date of `Eid has been announced.

Text Messaging

Text messaging is a relatively new phenomenon that has taken the Muslim world by storm. "Malaysia is big in using text and picture messages - especially for `Eid greetings," commented Zabrina A. Bakar, author of Life is an Open Secret, a newly released book of motivational stories. "We have micro-poems, pictures, one-liners, etcetera, designed by individuals and corporations that we can purchase or get for free."

Bakar says that the thriving SMS (Short Message Service) culture created with the spread of mobile phones helps cut down on the costs of postage and generally encourages people to keep in touch. Her father, who is 63, enjoys the technology and spends 20-30 minutes every `Eid "texting" friends and relatives, even those who may be sitting with him in the same room.

On the down side, though, Bakar points out that text messages require less creativity than traditional paper cards and tend not to be personalized. "There are no long-term memories of what others wish for us as an SMS will be deleted from the phone sooner or later," she said.

Getting Practical
"Technology really helps fill the gaps left by the absence of our loved ones."

Juli Herman, a homeschooling mother who is also from Malaysia, enjoys blogging about the `Eid. She has taught her children to make cards for family and friends in the form of Power Point presentations, which she says fosters creativity and becomes part of their homeschooling activities.

Herman has lived in the US for more than a decade and uses sites like Google Maps to pinpoint the location of local areas where `Eid prayers take place or fun places the family wants to visit, the convenience of which "makes the day much more organized." She also talks to her family in Malaysia via the computer.

"Technology really helps fill the gaps left by the absence of our loved ones," added Shabina S. Khatri, a freelance journalist from Michigan who moved to Qatar with her husband after getting married earlier this year. "On `Eid, insha’Allah, my husband and I will use [internet telephony] to call our families, use e-mail and text messaging to wish our friends a blessed day, and use our digital camera to take pictures of our celebration in Qatar."
Giving to Charity

An integral part of `Eid Al-Adha is slaughtering an animal and distributing its meat to the poor in commemoration of the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail.

Many people are choosing to make their donations online, through relief organizations such as Islamic Relief, Ummah Relief, and the Hidaya Foundation. This system helps ensure that donations will go to needier Muslims across the world.

In 2006, the Hidaya Foundation collected approximately $162,000 in udhiyah (sacrifice) donations, distributing the meat of 662 goats and 1918 cows in Asia, Africa, and the United States, a project that is estimated to have benefited about 27,000 families and 120,000 individuals.

"As Muslims, we are supposed to meet together for `Eid prayer and then share the thanksgiving of `Eid with our family and friends," commented homebound Delgado. She suggested ordering gifts like flowers, or even a meal, by phone or Internet, and sending it to a shut-in. "Seeking out lonely and isolated Muslims will make you feel good inside to bring some happiness to another person."

`Eid Shopping

Jamilah Kolocotronis, author of the Echoes series of novels for Muslims, does nearly all of her shopping for the `Eid online. A mother of six boys who holds a PhD in Social Science Education and reverted to Islam in 1980, Kolocotronis lives in Lexington, Kentucky, and says that shopping online gives her more choices.

"I used to drive from store to store, looking for that special book or gift. Now I can simply browse the Internet, comparing quality and prices. Also, I can buy things, such as Islamic books and CDs, which simply are not available here in Lexington," she told "I like to be able to stay home, do my Eid shopping, and not worry about the Christmas mania."

According to Hosam Abu Alam, marketing manager for, sales for the business are noticeably higher during the `Eid season, when parents and educators buy gifts of books, toys, and DVDs for their children and students through their website. Titles related to Hajj and Eid are especially popular.

Once the shopping is over, however, one should attend to more important things. Delgado advises Muslims to take care of their Internet business early and then "stay off the computer and enjoy the day with family and friends," remembering to find out who in the community may be in need of a real-life visit or kind word.
Source : Islam Online

No comments: