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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2705

Islam: Relevance of Eid ul Fitr!

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

According to the Islamic tradition, there are two festivals observed by Muslims every year - Eid-ul-Fitr just after Ramadan or Ramzan and Eid-ul-Zuha in the month of Hajj.

Eid al-Fitr in Arabic meaning “festival or feast of breaking of the fast" is celebrated on the first day of Shaw'waal, on completion of Ramadan. Shaw'waal is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. Eid-Ul-Fitr is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm).

Ramzan, the month of fasting, symbolizes a lot practices and beliefs of the community. It is not merely restraining oneself from having food but also to abstain from all kinds of evil and unlawful practices in Islam. Many Muslims believe that fasting reminds a sense of responsibility within themselves. The significance of this festival is also interpreted as a good time to bring people together in harmony and gratitude.

The religious Eid is a single day during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on the observation of new moon by local religious authorities, so the exact day of celebration varies by locality. However, in most countries, it is generally celebrated on the same day as Saudi Arabia.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. This has to do with the communal aspects of the fast, which expresses many of the basic values of the Muslim community; e.g., empathy for the poor, charity, worship, steadfastness, patience etc. Fasting is also believed by some scholars to extol fundamental distinctions, lauding the power of the spiritual realm, while acknowledging the subordination of the physical realm. It also teaches a Muslim to stay away from worldly desires and to focus entirely on the Lord and thank Him for his blessings. It is a rejuvenation of the religion and it creates a stronger bond between the Muslim and his Lord

The Eid-al-Fitr is a very joyous day; it is a true Thanksgiving Day for the believing men and women. On this day Muslims show their real joy for the health, strength and the opportunities of life, which Allah has given to them to fulfill their obligation of fasting and other good deeds during the blessed month of Ramadan.

The Eid prayer is performed in congregation in open areas like fields, community centers, etc. or at mosques. No call to prayer is given for this Eid prayer, and it consists of only two units of prayer with an additional six incantations. The Eid prayer is followed by the sermon and then a supplication asking for God's forgiveness, mercy, peace and blessings for all living beings across the world. The sermon also instructs Muslims as to the performance of rituals of Eid, such as the zakat.

Eid prayer is wajib (strongly recommended, just short of obligatory). It consists of two Rakaat (units) with six or thirteen additional Takbirs. It must be offered in congregation. The prayer is followed by the Khutbah. The Khutbah is part of the worship and listening to it is Sunnah. During the Khutbah, the Imam must remind the community about its responsibilities and obligations towards Allah, fellow Muslims and the fellow human beings.

The Imam must encourage the Muslims to do good and ward off evil. The Muslim community must also be directed to the state of the community and the Ummah at large and the feelings of sacrifice and Jihaad should be aroused in the community. At the conclusion of the prayer the Muslims should convey greetings to each other, give reasonable gifts to the youngsters and visit each other at their homes. Muslims should also take this opportunity to invite their non-Muslims neighbors, co-workers, classmates and business acquaintances to Eid festivities to expose them to Islam and Muslim culture.

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with great pomp in Saudi Arabia. Saudis decorate their homes and prepare sumptuous meals for family and friends. Eid festivities in Saudi Arabia may vary culturally depending on the region, but one common thread in all celebrations is of generosity and hospitality. In the spirit of Eid, many Saudis go out of their way to show their kindness and generosity. It is also traditional in some areas for Saudi men to go and buy large quantities of rice and other staples and then leave them anonymously at the doors of those who are less fortunate.

Celebrations in Indian subcontinent share many similarities with regional variations, because majority of the Indian subcontinent was ruled as one nation during the days of the Mughal Empire and British Raj. The night before Eid is called Chaand Raat, which means, "Night of the Moon". Muslims in these countries will often visit bazaars and shopping malls with their families for Eid shopping. Women, especially younger girls, often apply the traditional Mehndi, or henna, on their hands and feet and wear colorful bangles. The traditional Eid greeting is Eid Mubarak, and it is frequently followed by a formal embrace.

Charity is central to fasting culture during the Holy Ramadan. The Holy prophet of Allah said the Sadaqatul fitr is compulsory charity which becomes payable on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. The Noble Messenger of Allah SAS said: "The fast remains suspended between Heaven and Earth until the fitrah is paid." Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam made charity of Fitr compulsory as a purification of fasts from useless talks and vile discourses and also as food to the poor. (Hadith-Abû Dawûd). Sadaqatul Fitr (or fitrah) is wâjib upon all and it is not permissible to delay the payment of fitrah later than the Day of Eid for who is alive at dawn on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr and on whom Zakaat is Wajib, or who possesses goods free of debt in excess of his personal needs (e.g. house, clothing, furniture, etc.) to the value upon which Zakaat is obligatory.

It is essential that Sadaqatul Fitr be distributed to the poor and needy Muslim before the Eid Salaah. However, if this obligation has not been discharged timeously it should be done as soon as possible. It is preferable to give one’s Sadaqatul Fitr firstly to needy relatives, thereafter to one’s needy neighbours and then to other needy Muslims. The amount of Sadqatul Fitr is 1.633kg of wheat or 3.266kg of barley or the equivalent in cash. Mosques decide the details.

It is a sad commentary on those Muslims who refuse to know the truth and refuse to admit their mistakes or crimes against Islam or in general but by doing so they in fact are refusing to adhere to Islamic laws and faith.

While every Muslim, who follows Islam or not, wants to be safe and think they are safe. They refuse to know anything that upsets their false beliefs. They don’t want to admit that their wrong doings can go against Islamic faith and their fasting during the Holy Ramadan would not be considered to be genuine.

The fasting during the Holy Ramadan, if undertaken seriously aiming at spiritual richness- rather than more material wealth - would make the Muslims pure in thoughts and deals, make Muslims more Islamic than ever before in life, ensures their life hereafter safe and secure- rather than on earth as most Muslims would expect after the Ramadan month.

Muslims believe that they are commanded by Allah, as mentioned in the Quran, to continue their fast until the last day of Ramadan and pay the Zakat and fitra before offering the Eid prayers. On Eid Day, Muslims should reflect upon their life past one year, their pledges, work done for fellow Muslims and community and their commitment made to Islam.

Allah is great, Allah is great. There is no god but Allah. Allah is great, Allah is great. And all praises are for Allah).Allaho-Akbar, Allaho-Akbar. La ila-ha ill-lal-lah. Allaho-Akbar, Allaho -Akbar. Wa-lilahill hamd!

May the Almighty Allah forgive every Muslim believer for their misunderstandings about Islamic faith, guide them to imbibe true Islamic values and become true Muslims in future!

May next Ramadan month welcome Muslims as being more purified more useful to Islam and Muslim community than now.

- Asian Tribune -

 Eid-ul-Fitr festival marks the end of Ramzan
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