Holiday Decorating Frenzy

Perfuming and airing out the prayer rugs…

I started working on a blanket for Noora’s Eid gift, but then I saw the most beautiful post on a centerpiece for Eid…and decided that the house must be decorated ASAP in time for Ramadan. It shouldn’t be too much of a challenge with only a week left, right? After all, I was charged with decorating an entire school only a little over 2 years ago…

You know, I was bound to decorate the house. After spending last Ramadan in Palestine accompanied by the most beautiful lanterns and lights, some of which I brought back, you know I had to try to recapture the feeling. I’ve also always itched to decorate for Ramadan. Coming from a Christian family tradition where we always decorated the house, it is important to me for holidays to be festive. Christmas time is still very nostalgic for me precisely because of those reasons. And being in the alleys of Jerusalem that were decorated like the Christian holidays I celebrated in years past brought me back home.

Of course, the focus of Ramadan should not be on decoration, but sometimes that’s how we get in the spirit. Lights, carols, good clean home-y movies…don’t you notice how everyone is pretty cheerful around Christmas time here? I mean, I’m singing “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” and can’t help but to partake in the gingerbread…But if I’m honest with myself, Ramadan in the past couple of years has been pretty boring. I’ve wished so much that the Muslims here in the U.S. would do something big for our holiday. Even putting one something that lights up on their doors just so that neighbors know that we celebrate something–something wonderful. But the streets are dark. And in exchange, I see Muslim children practically begging their parents to celebrate Halloween and Christmas sometimes because of the festive atmosphere that those days bring…when they should be begging their parents to just actually celebrate Ramadan.

The dining room…ready for iftars…with a handmade lantern-chandelier!

I know that we Muslims in America are in the process of creating our own unique Ramadan traditions. I just wish we’d hurry up, before we lose our children to other (less-noteworthy) traditions in our culture.They are visual, and they do like lights and festive atmospheres. Who doesn’t? Just look at children’s toys…they are bright and decorative for a reason…

And if anyone wants to take up the position that decorating for Ramadan is imitating other traditions, well there is a hadith you should read:
Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (saws) said, Indeed, Heaven is decorated for Ramadan-ul-Mubarak from the beginning of the year to the end. (Shu’abul Imaan, V::3 P::312 Hadith::3633)
If heaven is decorated, shouldn’t the earth be decorated, too? And more importantly, shouldn’t our hearts? Actions are by intentions…we will be the losers if we deny our children the right to celebrate Ramadan by not making the effort to make the occasion special for them. If we don’t do it, who will? Certainly, people of other faiths won’t be decorating for Ramadan. We must ask ourselves how we can make Ramadan special for those little ones who do not fast or pray like we do. And don’t think I have it easy just because I’m an art teacher. Anyone can grab scrapbook paper and scissors and make something out of it…which reminds me of one of my favorite children’s books, which happens to be Jewish folktale by the way…Phoebe Gilman’s Something from Nothing. But alas, I must not digress from the main point. In closing, I’ll share this very touching quote that I found on Yahoo!Answers–a response to someone who asked how one should decorate the home for Ramadan:
“If u want to decorate Ur house, you may decorate it with all good deeds in this holly month, un seen decoration which no body can see it except Allah. Decorate it with good quality of Salah (prayer) good quantity of Zeker (remembrance of Allah) decorate it with lots of recitation of holly Quraan and lots of Nawafils extra prayers like Tahajjud Tarawih Qeyam …”
Subhanallah. In efforts to brighten up this dunya with our joy over this blessed month, we must not forget to decorate our real homes…our hearts. For what good is beautifying the exterior if we do not beautify the interior?!?

The living room…decorated…

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