Umm Isam and Huda Azam
Baby showers, gender reveal parties, half birthdays, birthdays, potty training, baby’s first words and first tooth festivities, phew!
Trending celebrations seem like an emerging burden upon our society. Suddenly there is an entire to-do list for the number of events celebrating the first child’s milestones and, of course, the following offspring must be given equal importance.
Clearly, not every household can afford to throw glamorous parties highlighting natural milestones. So are we breeding an inferiority complex in people?
How have we evolved from living simple lives to one in which grand celebrations have become a priority? Has there been a shift in perspectives of parenting, social norms, peer pressure, psychological expectations and emotions?
Parents have increasingly begun to invest themselves in appreciating, expressing love and celebrating something continually. However, this has now mutated into toxic pleasing by them who cannot say no to their children, who feel left out if they do not join the ridiculous band wagon with other parents. Such parents demonstrate a poor level of self-esteem themselves. By their choices they also instill a sense of materialism in their kids.
Developmental milestones that are a part of the natural life cycle of a child are celebrated as ‘achievements’ that Allah (swt) should have been thanked for if at all, instead of rewarding the child.
All children enjoy the attention and attraction of fancy decorations and gifts, but they adversely affect the personality of the child in terms of making them narcissist, self-centred and demanding, as opposed to becoming empathetic, giving and content at heart. A huge problem is with the idea of happiness that they develop which requires spending a lot of money, fuss all over them and treat them like celebrities in the limelight. They develop into weak individuals who will be upset if ignored, not attended on time or do not have a naturally occuring achievement to boost.
The social media and its viral trends set a precedent for others, hence it is best to be cautious about our activities and indulgences. Also, as trendsetters we are accountable for pressurizing the lower socio-economic classes into spending their hard earned money on events or gifts that they can ill-afford and that have no intrinsic benefit to anyone.
The truth is that gatherings and parties have always been a source of enjoyment and entertainment. Frankly, fancy themes and costumes merely add to the spark of togetherness. A delightful evening spent with families and friends most certainly does no harm when the purpose is to create memories.
In fact, Islam encourages us to maintain our family ties and feed our relatives and friends. However, compromising the Islamic principles of avoiding excess expenditure and adopting norms and ideas belonging to non-Muslim cultures is overstepping the line.
Islam does not restrict us to a certain uniform lifestyle for all. Neither does it disavow spending on luxury items. However, we are encouraged to focus on using our time, efforts and resources responsibly and with a view to gaining advantage in our Aakhirah.
The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Whoever introduces a good deed (that was originally established in Islam) upon which the people act will have its reward and the like of the reward of those who will act upon it without reducing anything from theirs; and whoever introduces an evil deed (that has no origin in Islam) upon which the people act will bear its sin and like of the sin of those who act upon it after him without reducing anything from theirs.’ [Muslim]
While we may continue enjoying the bounties of Allah, making customs and traditions out of it can compromise Islamic principles as we adapt to traditions, celebrations and customs besides the ones given to us by Allah (swt). The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Whoever imitates a certain people becomes one of them’. [Abu Dawood]