The hand of blessing

Fasting during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam for Muslims. The end of Ramadan is marked by the festival of Eid, and the day of celebration is determined by the moon. One of our workers living in a creative access nation describes her experience of Eid this year.

Early last week the moon was sighted. After hearing the cries and whoops going around the village, a friend and I went out to join the crowds on the chief’s porch, squinting up at the tiny sliver of a moon that was barely visible above the trees.

Following the news that the month of Ramadan was over (which seemed to come as a big shock to a lot of people who expected the month to have 30 days), the evening was filled with haste preparations for the next day’s celebrations.

The ‘hand of Eid’

Eid here feels almost like a combination of secular Christmas and Halloween. Children get gifted new clothes which they parade about in from house to house, receiving home baked goods or sweets along the way. Adults decorate their homes with new flooring, new curtains, new china or chairs. Special prayers are said in the mosque that morning, and afterwards men also go house-to-house passing on the Eid blessing and receiving cakes in return. Eid is the only day of the year in which it is acceptable for men to shake a woman’s hand as blessings are passed to the household (usually to the women, who are excluded from going to the mosque themselves) through the ‘hand of Eid’.

It is not uncommon for people having passed along the hand of Eid in their hometown, to travel throughout the area exchanging Eid blessings with family and friends along the way. For those that don’t travel, the day is filled by hanging out on porches or watching local sports matches.

Nail scarred hands

Please pray that people here would come to realise that true lasting blessing doesn’t come from a handshake once a year, but from the nail pierced hands of our Saviour – ‘Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nail surrendered’. Hands that weren’t afraid to touch the sick, the diseased, the outcast and the loner. Hands that weren’t afraid of getting dirty or of hard work. Hands that, as you read this, are working to prepare a place for all those who believe and accept the gift these nail scarred hands offer. Pray that Islanders would come to know and cling to these hands! Pray too for our hands, that they would point the way to his!

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