Thursday, December 29, 2005

Winter Solstice

OK so it's about a week late, but shhhh don't tell Boss that. Having mixed feelings about marking the time. I would like to point out that I am *NOT* marking this as part of my Islamic identity and it wasn't an Islamic event - it was educational pure and simple and my desire to bring some kind of rhythm into our lives. So much of the city-dweller's life is spent artificially - we are not really in tune with ourselves or our world. We barely recognise the seasons other than moan about how it impacts on our comfort-zone; we certainly do not get affected by them with our continuous flow of food. We never see the stars or moon or even sunsets all that often - too many things obscurring our vision so it was nice and refreshing to mark a natural occurence.

So we made paper lanterns, wrote a song, painted a "sun" colour, had a snack of hot chocolate and muffins, lit candles and said "good night" to the sun who was having the longest night sleep round about now. Boss and Jaws sat transfixed at the candle light - the calmest I have seen them - and then it was very nicely rounded off by offering maghrib. We as Muslims should be more aware of the seasons and the timings of the sun than most given that prayer times are set by it and as Khaliphas we are supposed to be caretakers of this earth (a bit difficult if you know nothing about it or how it works).

But I felt such a pagan. And that's no offence to pagans before anyone takes a potshot. It sits uncomfortably on my shoulders. I don't know why. Maybe I'm blanching at all the pagan symbolism and childhood memories, espcially when I used to live in Germany and there are big significances with candles and yuletide rituals. I know we don't have to erase our cultural heritage upon entering Islam so why do so many people make us feel that way? I know that many Islamic cultures have winter solstice rituals - Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis.

On the whole I think it was a good thing. It was a bit short notice and on-the-hoof, the whole point of occasions is the building up to them and getting excited about them, but still had an impact none-the-less.

DH giving me strange looks like "well are we going to celebrate Easter and turn into butt-naked tree worshippers next or what", and I know 18 years down the line if they say/do anything unIslamic then this moment and my half-baked ideas are going to get it in the neck, but I think there is a difference between inculcating religious beliefs and merely instilling rhythm in one's life. Feedback on this topic greatly appreciated.

Our song (to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), input by Boss, tweaked by me:

Goodnight, goodnight Winter Sun
Your longest sleep the whole year long;

Wake up soon and shine your rays,
Give us longer, warmer days;

Goodnight, goodnight Winter Sun
Sleep tonight your longest one.

The table

The lanterns

Orangey-yellow like the sun

This theme leads neatly onto resurrection, though.. Hajj theme next.


At 6:38 pm, Blogger Hannah said...

I think that broadening their horizons can only lead to a tolerant human being.
The best example that springs to mind is Hamza Yusuf. He seems to know about as much as possible on almost anything....and I certainly wouldn't want to debate with him, he could (and does) discuss intelligently so many subjects and where Islam fits within them.
I think we get really paranoid about how the kids will be affected by living in a multicultural country but in my opinion the worst thing to do would be to hide them away from what everyone else celebrates/believes because surely it will only lead to curiosity in later life? I'm confident that the truth of Islam will keep them on the siraata l-mustaqeem. May Allah guide all our children in their pursuits. Amin.

At 8:20 pm, Blogger merry said...

I'm with Hannah. My personal belief, which can't be so very far from your own i guess, is that essentially we spring from one source and however we worship, whatever path we follow, comes from a feeling that there is a god and he/she/it has provided a fascinating and complex earth to nurture and feed us.

It is worth celebrating, it is worth caring back, it is worth simply understanding it. It is worth giving thanks.

It is most certainly worth understanding that for all our differences, we are all the same in some ways, we all need the earth, it turns the same for all of us. If we can understand and tolerate each other through coming closer to that, i don't believe it is a Pagan worship at all - it's just being grateful and awed.

I do believe, as HEers, that understanding our ever widening community is the greatest gift we can give our children.

At 9:51 pm, Blogger milkmumma said...

anyway, subhan'Allah.

At 6:04 pm, Blogger sanika said...

Very beautifull celebration,it is just what me & I have done for all her life apart from this last year !.I don't see celebrating solstice as a pagan is true that many pagan people celebrate the solstices but also many other things & include gods & goddeses in it too.How true that as carers of this planet we should be in harmony with the seasons..there is a reason that the prayer times are aligned with the sun !.Thank-you for posting has reconfirmed for me that i should have gone with what i felt to be right & still celebrated it, Allah knows what is in each of our hearts.

At 7:50 pm, Blogger Qalballah said...

TBH if I did this again it would be different. I am not a highly sensitive person but I detected some weird energy with this that had me uncomfortable all night. Boss had nightmares and slept badly too but that could be coincidence. I think I went wrong in making it something to celebrate rather than reflect upon; I don't want to start a ritual that isn't prescribed by Allah as I feel uncomfortable tightrope walking on the bounds of bid'a. But if I did it again it would be a point of focus on Allah and not the sun (duh me) and there is a beautiful ayat in the Qur'an that states that people who reflect look at the sun and the moon travelling in their orbits and say "O Allah - not for no reason have You created all of this. Glory be to You", to the nearest meaning. A moment that could have been a wonderful dhikr of Allah turned into something not only devoid of barakah but actually the start of something off-setting.

Well, it's the first time I have tried to do anything like this. This is my learning curve and sometimes I get it wrong.

At 8:27 pm, Blogger Hannah said...

yeah, I think this sort of thing has to be taught in the concept of a history type lesson or a cultural lesson, not necessarily something experienced as from within, iyswim.
What I meant was I think it's great to teach them other traditions to give them a greater understanding of why we have Islam in the first place and not be ignorant of other peoples traditions.
I did like the little 'songs to the sun' and that type of stuff in Waldorf but didn't really know how to mould that into something I was comfortable with.

At 7:55 pm, Blogger Donna said...

Sorry for taking so long to reach December! Much to read; much to think over.

I have been honored to have been allowed to share many peoples lives, beliefs and ways of living on my journeys, and have experienced many differences. Luck and good manners have seen me sat at many a table, offered food by wonderful people thoughout life. I have made my own choices in life, and my own decisions about my religious convictions. It is with a grateful heart that I thank my Mother for giving me that reign and not forcing her own way of life on me; although I respect her house when I am in it. I have done much in my life that she is not proud of, and much that has hurt her, but I am still her child and we still love each other.

I can understand that when a child leaves the nest to find their own way in life, it is difficult to let them go; but sometimes harder when a child leaves the religious nest to find a home for their own beliefs; and for some it seems that a child in rejecting the parents religion, is rejecting the parents ... and oh, the pain (as you and your Mother have experienced) ... so is it better to avoid it by stopping them understanding other religions and ways of life? ... but love is stronger than that. And is it not the pasioned defence of one's own religion when put against another which has caused so much war?

I can not answer your question that the post asks. I hope that this explains why. You can but do what you feel is right; which is what you do; and you have every reason to feel proud of yourself. I have not, so far, read anything of a bad mother; what I have read, is a concerned mother, determined to do what is right for her children; no shame in that. You are a strong and caring woman; far more than many others I meet. I salute you and offer your household my heartfelt best wishes; for what the wishes of someone like me are worth to you. May the best of your past, be the worst of your future.


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