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Celebrating Eid together as a family

Photo: Hamza's story

While there are certain parts of Eid that his family have to adapt they make sure Hamza (10), who is profoundly deaf, is involved in everything.

Sitting at the front of the mosque, Hamza lip-reads the man leading the prayer. "He likes going to the mosque because it’s a routine and a part of our religion," says mum Husna. "But he did end up just sitting there because he couldn't really pick up on what was being said all the time." But this year, the family had a plan. They took Hamza's radio aid along to make sure he could hear everything being said.

Attending the mosque, getting together with family and celebrating big events, like Eid, are an important part of life for Husna, her husband Nurul and their three children Aieshah (17), Zaynab (14) and Hamza (10), who is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants. Because of this, they've continually made small adaptations to make sure Hamza can join in with it all.

"Eid celebrates the whole of Ramadan and what it means to give up certain things because you're remembering the poor, the needy and the less fortunate. You give up things that you would normally take for granted," Husna explains.

Ramadan took place for 30 days from April 12 this year, with observers fasting between sunrise and sunset. Eid al-Fitr in May is the first of two Eid celebrations each year. It marks the end of Ramadan and sees families coming together to break their fast, exchange gifts and celebrate. The second Eid celebration, Eid ul-Adha, is in July.

"Involve the child as much as you can in the day's event and the build-up to the day as well."

"In the build-up to Eid, we go out shopping and buy new clothes, and the kids always get a gift or family members give money out," says Husna.

"On the day itself we wake up much earlier than we would normally. The men then go to the mosque. Hamza's old enough now so he goes with his dad. They have Eid prayers there and then come home."

Usually the men wear hats inside the mosque, but this is something Hamza isn't able to do because it would cover his cochlear implants, making it difficult for him to hear.

This year, the family were hoping to celebrate Eid with their grandparents and other family members. "Hamza enjoys being around big groups of people and I think, because we've been doing that from such a young age with him, he's used to it, it's the norm for him," says Husna. "He can struggle if we go out to a restaurant to celebrate. He asks for my phone because he just wants to watch something and eat. He takes himself away from everyone because he finds it's too much processing everything that's going on. But at home he doesn't need that support.

"Last year for Eid we did a lot of FaceTiming to celebrate with family, because of the pandemic. Once everyone was home from the mosque and had eaten, we caught up to say what we were doing for the day and to show everyone our new outfits. I had a table spread out with gifts and food. We tried to replicate what we would do if we were going to the kids' grandparents' house, like we normally would.

"When we use FaceTime I've realised that some things Hamza will pick up on and hear straight away but there are certain things where he'll look at me and ask what they've said. I've also noticed that when it gets too much, he'll just move away. He'll sit in the background and watch what’s going on."

Husna has recognised that big celebrations can be difficult for Hamza, who ends up not joining in with conversations. "I would say, make sure you involve the child as much as you can in the day’s event and the build-up to the day as well. Sometimes it's a shock to the system when they experience something completely different, so it's important to explain to them what's going to happen," Husna says. With Husna's wider family coming together often for celebrations, it was important to her that her siblings were able to communicate with Hamza, who uses a mixture of speech and British Sign Language (BSL).

"I got my brother and sisters to learn BSL," she says. "They're not fluent, but they've got basic signing skills. If there was ever an emergency and he wasn't wearing his implants, they would still be able to communicate.

"It's also making sure you communicate basic tips like talking to him face-to-face, not when you’re behind him. Talking to him normally, not too slowly, not too fast and using the sign for 'again' if you don't understand what he's said. They've been doing it for a long time now so it's natural to them."

However it hasn't always been easy explaining Hamza's deafness to other family members. "It's difficult trying to explain Hamza's deafness to the older generation, like my mum and dad. It took my dad much longer to come to terms with it. I think he was just very naïve. They thought it was an illness that Hamza had caught and that might go away. I had to teach them, while I was still learning myself.

"When you have a deaf child, I think it's really important that the whole family is aware of their needs and how they communicate. The more you involve everyone in the family, the better the outcomes will be in the future."