Five Muslim partners, working across the business, talk us through what Eid al-Fitr means to them and how they will celebrate
John Lewis and Waitrose are proud to support Eid al-Fitr, a key moment in the Islamic calendar, when Muslims across the world celebrate the end of Ramadan. For many, Eid al-Fitr comes after a month of fasting, which means no eating or drinking during daylight hours. Eid is a time for celebration, spiritual reflection and prayer. It’s also a time to share gifts, give to charity and visit family and loved ones. Here, we learn how five families plan to mark the occasion and what their thoughts are for the year ahead.
Partner & Assistant Team Manager, Waitrose & Partners, Upminster
Sultan came to the UK as a student in 2006, became a British citizen and joined the partnership in 2011. He lives with his wife Nadia, son Nathan, 7, and daughter Sarah, 10 months.
Eid al-Fitr is a celebration after accomplishing one of the most important religious duties: fasting during the month of Ramadan, which means not eating from dawn till sunset. The week before Eid is very important and we are always busy buying gifts for the family and buying food for the big meal on Eid day. Under normal circumstances the day starts with prayers and a big meal is usually the main event, but there are lots of other ways people celebrate too. It’s not only about eating and enjoying family time but also fulfilling some duties – there are some constituent parts of Eid al-Fitr that are recognised all over the world.
“Making Eid special for children isn’t just about lights and presents, it’s also about building a strong Muslim identity”Sultan Masum,-Partner & Assistant Team Manager, Waitrose & Partners, Upminster
One of the five pillars of Islam is giving to charity, or Zakat. It is recommended this is given out in advance so those in need can also join in the celebration of Eid. Making Eid special for children isn’t just about lights and presents, it’s also about building a strong Muslim identity. For me, living far from my other family members, it’s important the next generation learns properly about the true meaning of Eid and spreads love towards others. This year, we will do some fun activities with the kids, such as decorating the house together and preparing the special meal. I will take my son to Eid prayer and throw an Eid party for him and his friends. We will use our celebrations as an opportunity to engage and invite the community to learn more about Islam.
Partner & Catering Assistant, John Lewis & Partners, Leicester
Aisha, 20, lives with her mother Asma, father Amin, and her three brothers Isa, 18, Adam, 16, and Ahmed, 15. Aisha is currently studying biomedical engineering at university.
Eid means everything to us – it’s a time to get together and to celebrate family and our love for each other. We eat great food that our Nani (grandma) cooks fresh for us on the day (absolutely nothing beats Nani’s cooking!) and eat sweet desserts until our teeth ache. Usually on the day we have Eid milk in the morning, which is like a rich, creamy, spiced milk mixed with ghee, saffron, cinnamon, cardamom and many other spices. Then we go off to prayer in the local Masjid (Mosque) or park and come back to eat as a whole family. Sometimes we have lamb biryani or mutton curry and sometimes we’ll go English and have a massive leg of roast lamb.
“Last year, instead of letting coronavirus get in our way, we adapted Eid day and organised an outdoor scavenger hunt for the kids”Aisha Yusuf,-Partner & Catering Assistant, John Lewis & Partners, Leicester
Then there’s dessert where we’ll have a mix of English delicacies like cheesecakes, cinnabons, cookies and cake as well as Indian sweet dishes including gulab jamun, ras malai and gajar ka halwa, and we always, always have a massive pot of Indian masala tea (chai). For kids, Eid day is a dream come true – their pockets are lined with bank notes and we all get to dress up and go to morning prayers as a community and celebrate the hard work and trials faced during the month of fasting. Last year, instead of letting coronavirus get in our way, we adapted Eid day and organised an outdoor scavenger hunt for the kids with a golden ticket as the final clue. It was such fun: the hints were spread around the neighbourhood and everything was done outside and according to government guidelines. It’s safe to say that regardless of the situation the whole family loved it!
Partner & Supermarket Assistant, Waitrose & Partners, West Byfleet
Aleena lives with her mum Kausar, dad Mohammed, and sisters Fara, 28, Henna, 16, Maya, 15, and Imaan, 9.
Eid al-Fitr means a time to get together with friends and family. It’s a time of happiness and joy remembering all those around the world in need. This year my family and I plan to celebrate Eid al-Fitr at home with our extended family and lots of south-Asian food. The night before is very busy but also very meaningful as we open our final fast of the year where we reflect on how the last month has been for us spirituality, mentally and physically and we send thanks to Allah for allowing us to complete the month and accept our prayers and fasts. We also then get confirmation from the local Mosque that they’ve seen the new moon outside to make sure Eid is the next day. One of our main preparations is our outfits. It’s important to wear nice, clean clothes on Eid day! And our family always ensures this happens. Whether it’s traditional cultural clothing or a western outfit – we go all out!
“It’s important to wear nice, clean clothes on Eid day! And our family always ensures this happens”Aleena Farooq,-Partner & Supermarket Assistant, Waitrose & Partners, West Byfleet
The night before, someone will start ironing and we’ll make sure that all the jewellery and makeup is out ready. I’ll then start putting mehndi (henna) on all of my sisters which can take a few hours as it’s a long process. We appreciate Eid more as we have fasted the 30 days before, which gives it an extra magical touch. This year, I will be personally reflecting on the past year – those we have lost and those who we have gained. It has been a tough year for all of us and knowing that I’m lucky to celebrate Eid with my family is very special and heartwarming. I’ll also be reflecting on my own spiritual side and how I’ve improved, or what I need to work on to achieve the goals I want. This year my family and I will be celebrating just within our bubble to really and truly appreciate what we have. The Farooqs will still dress up and eat delicious food, but also appreciate one another’s company and cherish what we have.
Partner & Merchandising Operations Lead, Waitrose & Partners
Adnan lives with his wife Umberin and daughter Sumayyah.
The last 10 days and nights of Ramadan, leading into Eid, are considered extra special and carry extra reward, so you look for every opportunity to seek God’s blessings. You can feel quite tired after three weeks of fasting, but also excited as the home stretch is in sight. The last few days before Eid you are still immersed in fasting, prayers and reflection. Preparation for Eid includes planning what you will wear on the day, which prayer timing you will attend on Eid morning, who you may visit or who may visit you, and what food treats should be bought and prepared. The main aspect is to meet up with family and friends and to share joy and conversation. Personally, the most special part of the day is attending Eid morning prayer at a Mosque in congregation – we’re not sure if that will be possible this year, and on what scale. Ideally I’ll attend with my brother, who is special needs, and we’ll be looking to meet as many friends and family as possible while there.
“Personally, the most special part of the day is attending Eid morning prayer at a Mosque in congregation”Adnan Siddiqui,-Partner & Merchandising Operations Lead, Waitrose & Partners
In terms of food, there is a family tradition where on the way home after Eid prayer, I will stop by my mum’s and have breakfast consisting of an omelette and a tomato-based dish (which is quite sharp and spicy) with either naan or toast. For the rest of the day there isn't set food as such, although I do tend to enjoy samosa and seekh kebab, and an assortment of curries, depending on what you feel like on the day and what may be on offer at other people’s homes/gardens, again depending on social guidelines. This year, depending on covid guidelines, we would like to resume traditional activities and if possible meet up with our elder daughter, her husband and our one-year-old granddaughter who live in Stoke. Especially after the last year we’ve had, there will be continued reasons to ask God for guidance and blessings, and at the same time be grateful for what we do have, remembering those less fortunate.
Partner & Catering Assistant, John Lewis & Partners, Cambridge
Damajanti lives with her husband Will and son Harry, 19, who is studying at home. Her daughter Ella, 21, is living and studying in Brighton.
In the week leading up to Eid we feel very excited! Even though we can’t do what we would do if we were in Indonesia, at least we can celebrate as a family together here. Preparations before the big event are mainly cooking and baking. I also clean the house. Usually we prepare food a day or two before (all the family helps) and then start eating after the last breaking of the fast, the evening before Eid. On Eid, we start the day with prayers in the Mosque or at home, and then eat.
“Eid is an opportunity to clean our soul from bad deeds and energies and to start afresh as a human being”Damajanti Banham,-Partner & Catering Assistant, John Lewis & Partners, Cambridge
The main food will be ketupat (rice cubes cooked in coconut leaves), rendang (meat curry with spices), sambal goreng (goat, lamb, chicken or vegetables) and lodeh (soupy vegetable curry). We also bake lots of cookies, like kaasstengel (cheese cookies) and nastar (pineapple cookies). But Eid is also an opportunity to clean our soul from bad deeds and energies and to start afresh as a human being. It’s a time to forgive and to ask for forgiveness, and for giving to those in need. The main thing is to ask for forgiveness from family members and be thankful for everything that we have. Living apart from my family in Indonesia, especially my mum, who is 85, means that I am also missing my family a lot on this day.