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City of Banjul
Friday, December 1, 2023

Eid Mubarak

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With Aicha

Dear reader, what a wonderful greeting; Eid Mubarak, may the blessings of Allah always be with you.
Another Ramadan has passed and it has been tough as usual but a blessing nevertheless. Looking one month ahead before Ramadan begins might fill one with a feeling that a month is very, very long and we wonder how it will be possible to endure all the temptations during that time.
God in his wisdom knows that if we didn’t need to fast for a whole month we wouldn’t take it as seriously as we do now.

A week or two is too short, it would pass quickly and leave no trace. A whole month is giving us time for handling our ups and downs because they come, no doubt about that.
Ramadan is a time for reflection, it takes time for new habits to sink in and for old ones to disappear. We don’t come out like innocent newborn children at Eid-al-Fitr but hopefully our souls are a bit cleaner than before. The purpose of Ramadan is to make us implement the new and better habits, our way of thinking and acting so we will please God.

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When we greet each other and say Eid Mubarak let that not be only empty words without any substance. Take your time to look your friends and family in the eye and show them that you really mean what you are saying. Let them see the love of God, let them hear in your voice that you wish your fellow human being the best; blessings from God.

Christmas is a huge celebration in the western world, it comes at the same time every year because the Christian calendar is different from the Muslim. We have 12 months and the Muslim calendar has 11 months. I work as a music teacher and even though I’m a Muslim I sing a lot of Christmas songs and hymns with my pupils as this is the tradition here.
As a teacher in Sweden it is against the law to enforce any religion on the pupils. Our society is secular, which means in the practicality that people are free to believe what they want but that belief is private and nothing we should try to influence on someone else. So I am not allowed to speak about my religion unless any of my pupils asks me about it.

I must always try to be as neutral as possible and that is hard sometimes because I’m not neutral as a person.
Anyway; when we speak about Christmas and I ask my pupils why we celebrate it I have found more and more that they actually don’t know that anymore. When I joke and say that we celebrate Christmas because the Santa Claus was born on that day a lot of the kids actually believe me.
Christmas time comes with a message that we should celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ but also celebrate love and compassion. We give each other gifts, just like at Eid-al-Fitr, and wish each other Happy Christmas.
The sad thing is that when this celebration has lost its message it becomes shallow and materialistic. The main focus is on gifts, plenty of food and parties.

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A celebration as Eid-al-Fitr also has a deeper meaning but in a materialistic world this meaning gets lost.
God gave us a whole month for reflection because then we have plenty of time to think of what is important in life. We enjoy the food when we finally are allowed to eat it. We meet family and friends, take our time to speak with each other about things that matter. As God has given us certain rules to follow we must think of how we speak and what we speak about.

When we have to do that for a whole month we have time to fail, remembering the rules, asking for forgiveness and try better. When we need to long for something we evaluate it higher as we finally get it; food, water and cuddling with the husband or wife. One month without the cuddling might also feel long but there is a lesson in that too. It is easy to take each other for granted, to reach out for your spouse and take what you need from him or her, but if you have to miss it for a while it is so much sweeter then.
All of us who live far away from our near and dear ones know how it feels to long for each other. It is tough many times but with the grace of God we manage. Viber, Skype and WhatsApp are truly blessings, ”snail mail” (letter) is too slow and regular phone calls too expensive. Internet is a blessing as long as we use it wisely.

Is it possible to let go of the internet temptation? Tough question, truly, as at least in my part of the world we rely on internet for our daily lives. At my job, for example, I use internet every day. Parents don’t call the school when their kids are sick, instead they register that on a special page on the school’s website.
Teachers check that website every morning to see if any of their pupils are sick. When us teachers have planned a test for the pupils, we write that on this special page too because it is almost like a pin board.
For whatever purpose we use the internet it is very easy to do something else too, than what we are supposed to do.

Facebook, Snapchat and different websites with different messages are tempting us. We choose those we are attracted in and think that a little sneak-peak can’t harm anyone.
When we speak to someone IRL (in real life) we hear what we are saying and we can protect our language from foul words. It is harder to protect our thoughts and what we look at but that is important as well. Maybe you think that you can’t control your thoughts but that is actually possible. It is not only possible but it is also necessary because the way we are thinking controls our lives. If we decide to stay positive it will affect our mindset and actions.

When we decide to only say things that can benefit ourselves or others we begin to spread peace and harmony among our fellow human beings.
You might think that I am speaking about some fantasy world where everyone is walking around with eyes like shining stars, but stop and think for one second – how can negativity be positive?
If we allow ourselves to be negative how can that do any good for anyone?
Let me give you some examples:

Let’s say that you come home late, you are hungry and thirsty and could give your right arm for a shower.
You find that dinner is late, the water is not as cold as you wished it to be and there is not enough pressure on the water so you can take a shower.
Who is to blame, or should you even blame anyone? Well, you might have some really well-thought words to tell to NAWEC but what about the dinner? Instead of letting the negativity flow maybe you should change your mindset and try to find out the reason for the delay of it.

There can be so many reasons and I’m sure that it doesn’t always depend on how lazy the housewife is. Most housewives are hard working women but it is not easy to care for a home, a bunch of kids, taking care of the elderly and to make some magic with the little fish money she gets. I admire the Gambian housewives, these heroes who walk around so dignified with a baby on their backs. Ladies – you are amazing! Be proud of yourselves because you are the ones who are the foundation of the society.
They call women the weaker sex but that is not true. We don’t have the same kind of muscle power as you men but don’t try to mess with a bunch of upset women!
Since humanity was created women have always been forced to be strong but we have a different kind of strength.

Let’s take a walk down the history lane:
Imagine a group of people who lived together a long, long time ago and these people were hunters.
The men needed a certain kind of muscles for running fast to catch an animal, strong arms to throw a spear and to carry their prey home.

The men were built for using a lot of energy on a shorter amount of time. When they had come home with their prey they could relax and focus on the next hunt.
The men were created for doing one task at the time because they couldn’t interrupt the hunt with anything else so they had to focus.

Women walked instead of ran because they went from one task to the other and it was a never ending story.
Kids needed to be looked after and fed every day, the elderly cared for, the laundry washed, the crops harvested and so on. God has created us differently for a reason so we should not compare men and women.
Sometimes us women can hear from men that women can’t focus on one task at the time!”
Yes, we can do that but there are so many things going on around us all the time, and we are supposed to take care of them all – at the same time!
A woman can cook, carry one child on the back at the same time as she is telling her husband where he can find whatever he is looking for at the same time as she is blowing the nose on one of the other kids as she is asking a third child to tell the family that dinner is ready as she is reminding herself to bring in the dry laundry as it is going to be rain and she must remember to iron a shirt for her husband at the same time as she is helping some of the kids with their homework.

You get it? That was a very long sentence but this is what it looks like to be a woman. If a woman then wants to have a job outside the home too she has to do that plus everything else.
Women are heroes, these heroes don’t get medals, they don’t get their pictures taken and hung at official buildings but they must not be taken for granted. Women have a mental strength, they are the ones who stays when others leave. Women struggle to feed their families with whatever little they can earn.

Where am I heading with all this, you might ask yourself?
I am heading to the fact that if we look at the reasons for why we are created differently, instead of accusing the spouse of not being like you, we begin to cherish our differences. If we begin in the home and little by little bring this way of thinking with us out in our daily life we can create a better environment at our work place, at the market, in the store or wherever we meet people. Wouldn’t it be great to meet people who are genuinely kind instead of fearing they are back biting you when you walk away? Let us sow seeds of kindness and let that grow instead of all the rubbish we tend to spread around us, no matter if it is in our neighbourhood or on internet.
When we wish each other peace, let not there be empty words, let them be a blessing instead.

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