The news Thursday that more than 700 people were trampled to death in Mecca cast a shadow over the start to the Muslim holiday Eid. It’s three days of gift-giving, family gatherings and prayer.
A Collin County Muslim woman is using a technique from Christmas traditions to make Eid brighter for refugee families in North Texas.
Farah Uddin’s McKinney home is spotless, except for the multi-colored mountain of gifts taking up half her living room.
Seventy gift bags and packages, filled with baby dolls, soccer balls, crayons, cookies and chocolate are sorted and ready for delivery. Uddin collected them for refugee families who’ve moved to North Texas from all over the world.
“Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and also there was one family from Kenya," she says.
'Angel Tree' Style Toy Drive To Honor Eid
She put together this “Angel Tree” style toy drive with the help of DFW International. Uddin reached out to other parents at her daughter’s school and they jumped at the chance to adopt Muslim refugee families for Eid. Eleven year-old Salat Hussain picked gifts for two toddlers. He doesn’t take the responsibility lightly.
“I get Eid presents for my Eid and I feel happy when I get them and I enjoy them. So I want other people to feel the same way, and I want them to share my happiness," he says.
Incorporating sacrifice into Eid stems from the story of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his son for God. Ameer Uddin says this service project, which puts refugee families’ needs ahead of personal wants fits the message of Eid.
“Give up what we love to share it with the people who don’t have it, so that we may close that gap," he says.
Their First Eid Away From Home
Farah Uddin says these refugee families are celebrating their first Eid away from the comfort of extended family and the familiarity of local traditions.
“Back home they celebrate with their aunts, uncles, grandparents," she says. "So I’m really looking forward to Saturday and seeing the smile on the kids’ faces, because I don’t think their expecting this.”
Dampening the spirit of the holiday is the news of Thursday morning’s tragedy at Mecca. The Uddins know a few people who made the trip. Happily, they have received word that their friends are safe.
“It makes you sad and breaks your heart, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who passed away," Farah says.
It’s hard to imagine a starker example of sacrifice than giving your life in a pilgrimage of faith.
Farah Uddin hopes her small project in North Texas touches both the families on the receiving end, and those who decided to donate. In that sense, the gifts far outnumber the 70 packages sitting in her living room.