After a month of conflict, we are reminded that there indeed does exist little trinkets of happiness in this country, in the form of decorative lights outside homes, and of the aroma of delicious sweets being cooked, and of the loving “Eid Mubarak” greeting being exchanged between strangers on streets. The most sacred day of the year, Eid Milad-un-Nabi, celebrating the birth of the cherished Prophet (PBUH) is upon us, with its decorations and family gatherings and children’s laughter, to allow ourselves to forget the last few days of protests, hate and a country at its most divided.

It is certainly a strange climate for Eid Milad-un-Nabi this year. A holiday which symbolises unity among sects, it is arriving now at a time when the man at the front-lines is Khadim Hussain Rizvi, chief of the Tehrik-e-Labbaik-e-Ya-Rasoolullah (TLYR) party, who was successful at challenging the writ of the state. For the past few days filled with mass protests, one could be forgiven for thinking that Rizvi was the face of representation of religious sentiment in the country. However, where on one side of the city where Rizvi stands triumphant with his jamat, giving expletive ridden and inciting speeches, next door, the houses being decorated with lights give the last glimmer of hope that while Pakistan might succumb to extremist pressure now and then, the meaning of Islam to Pakistanis has always been so much more than divisions and excommunication. In its history of 70 years, Pakistan has never elected a religious party.

The message of brotherhood and love that Eid brings is embraced by Pakistanis in the traditions of generosity and community that are adopted every Eid. After the storm that was these protests, the tinkering lights of Eid are a much needed pick-me-up, and a testament to the fact that the message of community and brotherhood stand stronger than hate.