Eid Al-Fitr is a three-day Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan at the new moon. Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. The holiday lasts for the entire month and Muslims fast during the daylight hours only eating small meals after sundown. In the evenings they also visit with friends and family. It is also a time of worship and contemplation. The month of Ramadan is also a time when it is believed that the Holy Quran, the Muslims holy text, was sent down from heaven. One day Muhammad was sitting alone in the wilderness near Mecca. Suddenly, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him. The Angel commanded Prophet Muhammad to read. Prophet Muhammad responded that he could not read. The Angel Gabriel then taught Prophet Muhammad verses from the Quran, which Prophet Muhammad memorized.
Eid al-Fitr means the Celebration of Breaking the Fast and Recurring Happiness. When the new moon appears people know to end Ramadan and to begin Eid Al-Fitr. With the development of technology, scientists are now able to predict when the new moon will appear; still many people rely on watching for the new moon to officially begin Eid Al-Fitr. Eid Al-Fitr follows the Islamic Calendar. People watch for three new moons; this means that Eid Al-Fitr may begin on different days in different countries.
Eid Al-Fitr is a time to celebrate all the good things in life and give thanks for all blessings. An important part of Eid Al-Fitr is performing acts of charity. During this time each household pays a small tax, usually in money but occasionally in food, which is given to the poor so that they may celebrate Eid Al-Fitr also. Homes are decorated and everyone wears new clothes. This is a time of giving and receiving and spending time with loved ones.
In the mornings of Eid Al-Fitr people wake very early and attend prayers. These prayers are held in mosques and large open areas such as sports stadiums. After prayers everyone goes home to eat breakfast. Once breakfast is finished, the visiting begins. Families welcome friends and neighbors to wish them a happy Eid Al-Fitr and eat special cakes with them. Dinner is spent with family. Each day of Eid al-Fitr is spent with a different branch of the family. Children receive gifts on Eid Al-Fitr, but they do not receive toys; they are given money.
Children may collect quite a large sum of money if many family and friends visit.
Eid Al-Fitr is also a time of reconciliation. Feuds and disputes are resolved. Obligations are fulfilled. Blessings are acknowledged. It is a time of happiness and good will among all people.
Mohamed O. Nur (Dr. Shacbi)
E-mail: [email protected]
This article was originally published on Hiiraan Online for the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr