A Time to Celebrate

One of my best friends had a party last Friday night which I was fortunate enough to be invited to. It was partly a going-away party because she’s moving to another state in three weeks. But it was mostly a party to announce and celebrate her marriage.  She was married a couple of months ago but hasn’t been able to have the big wedding back home because of the situation in Libya right now. So she had a party here so that she can celebrate with her friends, both old and new, here in the U.S.

Other than baby and bridal showers, I’d never been to an all-women party until I was invited to one by my friends from Libya. Not all Muslims are strict about the separation of the sexes, but Libyans definitely are. The first time I went to a party where the men and women celebrated in different rooms, it felt strange. But I’ve become used to it and discovered that I don’t really mind it. Even at mixed parties in the non-Muslim world, men and women tend to split up into separate groups. So it wasn’t all that different.

The party Friday night was unique for me because I got to see my Muslim friends in all their finery. Off came the hijabs and niqabs and abayas and what emerged was dazzling. Everyone looked so beautiful, especially the beaming bride. The atmosphere was festive. Which was wonderful because Allah knows the Libyans have a lot to be worried about right now. But when isn’t a wedding a time of joy and hope?

We visited for over two hours before the meal was served, but it was well worth waiting for. I only took one portion of each dish and I still stuffed myself silly. I would love to learn how to fix Libyan food, but I doubt I could make it as good as Libyans do.

It was wonderful to see all my old friends and meet new ones. My youngest daughter came with me and I proudly introduced her around. The women made over her because she’s pregnant. There were a lot of “Mashallahs” and “Alhamdulillahs” going around!

I love the way Muslim women greet one another. There are the “asalaam alaykums” and “wa alaykum salaams” and a flurry of hugs and kisses. It’s not like anything I’ve ever experienced before. One of the things I’ve been most impressed with about Muslims in general and Libyans in particular is how hospitable they are. You never feel like a wall-flower when you’re invited into a Muslim home or to a party. My daughter and I left feeling very blessed. Alhamdulillah.

It’s not that long before Ramadan will be here again. The fasting is difficult, but the fellowship is amazing. I’m looking forward to celebrating it with my fellow Muslims.

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Ellen

Editor and chief writer at I, Muslimah and Femagination. Ellen also contributes regularly to Elevate Difference. She is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with two cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.