Sikandar: A lot of people compare Eid to Christmas, but in my experience it’s more like Thanksgiving. It’s funny that it’s supposed to be the bigger Eid, but it’s the one I usually forget about until it happens.
Fatimata: That’s true. How we celebrate in the US has been different from Mauritania, but we still follow the Sunnah acts, the acts that the prophet Muhammad used to follow. In our family, the planning for outfit is a couple of weeks in advance to make sure you look your best on the day of Eid. For us, that’s wearing our traditional West African clothes. We start the day with the Eid sacrifice, distribute the meat among the less fortunate via the mosque and have a meal together as a family. Sometimes we go to visit other family members or have them come over, but it’s not a three-day long celebration like we would have in Mauritania.
Sikandar: Yes, the emphasis is around getting together with your loved ones and sharing a meal together.
Connection to cultural heritage
Fatimata: Do you go back to Pakistan often?
Sikandar: I just went back in March. It was incredible, but it made me realize that I don’t belong in that culture completely. I think it’s something a lot of second-generation immigrants feel, that they don’t fully belong in either culture; they’re pulled in both directions sometimes.
Fatimata: Yes, I feel a lot of people have that same kind of conflict. It’s an interesting dynamic, trying to hold onto your culture as well as learning to be more integrated in your current one.
Sikandar: Being a visible minority who only knows Canadian culture, I think it’s important to understand that some visible minorities can only identify themselves as Canadians or Americans, etc. Their relationship or investment with their ancestral culture or religion can be very fluid. How would you define yourself?
Fatimata: To say it differently, the three most important things to me are my faith and connection to Allah, having a good relationship and support from my family, and being able to do what I love.
Sikandar: Mine are similar. Being a Canadian, my more spiritual side of being Muslim, and being a husband and a son are all things that define me.
Fatimata: Also, from talking to me, most people immediately pick up on my love for sports and specifically soccer. I cannot go through a conversation without a reference to how soccer has impacted me in terms of the friendships that I’ve made or the confidence it’s instilled in my being. I advocate for youth — especially females — to get engaged in sports because of the confidence that it gives you, the ability to build camaraderie and the way it translates to the business world.
Sikandar: I admit I have not followed soccer until this World Cup, and I was surprised. I had some assumptions going in that were quickly shattered. I loved it.