For many of us Ramadan in the West often times feels like an isolated experience void of the celebratory vibes that we find back home. Fasting is a long and arduous process especially during the hot summer months, and while our dedicated mothers, grandmothers and aunts create delicious meals for iftar (the breaking of the fast), that holiday spirit – which is abundant during Christmas time – is lacking for many Muslims in the West who partake in Ramadan and Eid.
One Chicago woman became aware of this lull in the Ramadan Spirit and took matters into her own hands.
Reem Sayes, an American Muslim, mother of two little boys, and former Chicago Public School teacher created her online store Days of Eid that is filled with beautiful Ramadan and Eid inspired decorations for the house.
For Reem, growing up in a household where Ramadan and Eid were celebrated in full affair, these sentiments carried on with her as she grew older. Noticing that it was hard to find decorations for Eid that allowed her and other Muslims to showcase their faith to others in a decorative manner, she wanted to change that.
Days of Eid (inspired by Dawud Warnsby’s song “These Days of Eid”) not only aims to provide decorations to spruce up your home, but it also aims to change the narrative and negativity that people associate with Islam. Through her business, Reem is able to illustrate that Muslim holidays are beautiful and sacred and should be celebrated widely.
Her collection includes marquee signs for Eid and Ramadan, chic burlap Ramadan Mubarak banners and colorful Mosque silhouette window lights. If you are in the Bridgeview/Orland Park area of Chicago, they offer free delivery!
Through her business, Reem is able to illustrate that Muslim holidays are beautiful and sacred and should be celebrated widely.
I had a chance to talk with this inspiring Muslima business woman to discuss her inspirations behind Days of Eid and share tips on how to make Ramadan and Eid a more festive occasion and since Ramadan is right around the corner – she’s going to teach us how to get our Eid on!
What inspired you to make Eid a more celebratory occasion in Chicago?
Growing up, Ramadan was a great time of year for me. I was really lucky that my parents enrolled me in an Islamic school and I got to enjoy Ramadan around other people who were also celebrating. I looked forward to going to taraweeh prayer (nightly Ramadan prayers) with my friends and having lots of family iftars. As time went on, I became a Chicago Public School teacher and was removed from my comfort zone. During that time, I saw how children who were not growing up in Muslim communities and attending Islamic schools, were observing Eid and Ramadan. This was devastating for me and made me think, “All Muslim children should be able to experience and enjoy Ramadan and Eid, not just those whose parents can afford it.” Becoming a wife and a mother was definitely another big push to make Eid special. I felt like it was my duty to make my family enjoy Ramadan and Eid.
What do Ramadan and Eid mean to you? Is this perspective reflected in the decor items you sell?
Ramadan and Eid are very special times of year for me. I grew up around others who also celebrated Ramadan and Eid. Because I was enrolled in an Islamic school, I got to enjoy Ramadan around other people.
Even though I enjoyed Ramadan and Eid, we never decorated [our house] like those who celebrated Christmas. There was still an element of secrecy in Islamic holidays and that was something that I wanted to change. Muslim parents should make Ramadan and Eid a time of celebration and pride for their children. It’s something all Muslims should look forward to and embrace.
How do you think decor plays into the spirit of Eid and Ramadan?
I think decor sets the mood and atmosphere and gets everyone excited for the holiday. Growing up I was surrounded by an obsession with Christmas culture and I was extremely excited every year as soon as my neighbors started to put their Christmas lights up. That is the excitement that I want my children and all Muslim children to have about their own holidays.
I love that your main objective is to make Eid a festive occasion that Muslims can rejoice in through your decorations! What do you look forward to the most about Ramadan and Eid?
I look forward to making memories. I want my children to look back at pictures and think, “Mama always tried to make Ramadan and Eid special for us.” I look forward to Eid prayer, it’s such a beautiful feeling seeing so many loved ones I knew since I was little, and now bringing my own children to Salatul Eid (the Eid prayer). It has always been my favorite part.
Aside from the beautiful decorations – how do you make Eid feel more festive?
There are special drinks and desserts we only make during Ramadan. I am Palestinian so I grew up with my mother always making “qamr il-deen” which is a special drink made from a dried apricot paste.
We also make Ramadan special by making “katayif,” which is like a thin pancake stuffed with walnuts or cheese and folded into a shape of a crescent – and then drenched in a sugar syrup. On Eid, we eat lots of ma3mool (date filled cookies). The food alone is enough create excitement.
It is great to see Muslim woman being their own bosses and starting businesses! Do you have any tips for aspiring Muslima Entrepreneurs? What has your journey been like?
Do something you love but be logical. If something isn’t that unique or purposeful reconsider because you may end up wasting lots of money and time. Also, don’t be shy to ask for advice. One of my dearest friends started her own company and I always ask for her opinion or inquire about how she did things. She has been extremely resourceful and a huge support system for me Personally – I’d like to give a shout out to Deanna Khalil – CEO & owner of ABAYA ADDICT. She has definitely made this journey easier.
We also received tons of support and advice from another Muslim company, “Modern Wall Art.” They reached out to us without even knowing us and just wanted to help us for the sake of pleasing God. The support we have received from other Muslim entrepreneurs has been overwhelming and something we can never forget.
With that being said, my journey has been scary and wonderful at the same time. It’s really, really hard balancing being a mother, wife, and entrepreneur all at once but if you keep your intentions pure and do things for the sake of Allah and your family, things will fall into place.
Be sure to check out Days of Eid to purchase some beautiful decorations for your home. Remember that Ramadan and Eid should be a joyous and festive occasion. Take this time to reflect on your family, friends, life and make an effort to strengthen your relationship with God.
Fasting is hard but honestly as Muslim women we are super badass anyways so this year will be a piece of cake (insh’Allah)!