Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Little About Eid

I always try and educate individuals on Islamic practices and just things Muslims do in General, and Eid is one of them.

So here is my annual Eid post...

Eid ul-Fitr, (Arabic: ‎عيد الفطر ), often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadhan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity," while Fiṭr means "breaking (the fast)". The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the thirty days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadhan. The first day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month Shawwal.

Eid-ul-Fitr Salaah (prayer) consists of two units, which is generally offered in an open field or large hall called an Eid-gah. This salaah or prayer, can only be performed with Jama’at (i.e., in congregation) and has an additional extra six Takbirs (raising of the hands to the ears while saying Allahu Akbar (God is Great), three of them in the beginning of the first raka'ah and three of them just before ruku' in the second raka'ah, according to the Hanafi school. 

 Muslims are commanded by Allah in the Quran to complete their fast until the last day of Ramadhan and pay the Zakaat ul-fitr before doing the Eid prayer.


Before the advent of Islam in Arabia, we find mention of Eid festivals as yawm al-sab‘ and yawm al-sabasab as well as some others among the idolaters of Arabia. The shari‘ah of the Israelites had Eid festivals as well but as is evident from the Old Testament and other scriptures, these festivals related more to commemorating certain days of their history. The Eid ul-Fitr was originated by Prophet Muhammad and is observed on the first of the month of Shawwal right after the end of the holy month of Ramadhan in which the believers undergo a period of fasting.

It is evident from certain Ahadith (traditions of the Prophet) that these festivals were initiated in Madinah after migration. Anas reports:
When the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he found people celebrating two specific days in which they used to entertain themselves by playing and merriment. He asked them about the nature of these festivities at which they replied that these days were occasions of fun and recreation of the days of jahilliyah (Ignorance). At this, the Prophet remarked that the Almighty has fixed two days [of festivity] instead of these for you which are better than these: Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha.
For Muslims, both these festivals of Eid ul-fitr and Eid ul-adha are occasions of showing gratitude to Allah, remembering him and are a means of entertainment. 
Aishah (prophets wife) narrates that when on an Eid day her father Abu Bakr stopped young girls from singing, the Prophet said: Abu Bakr! [Let them sing]; every nation has an Eid and [this day] is our Eid.

General rituals

Muslims offer the Eid ul-Fitr prayers in the morning either at the Mosques or in open fields called Eid gah (Eid field).  
Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated for one, two or three days. Common greetings during this holiday are the Arabic greeting ‘Eid Mubārak ("Blessed Eid") or ‘Eid Sa‘eed ("Happy Eid"). Muslims are also encouraged on this day to forgive and forget any differences or past animosities that may have occurred with others during the year.  
Typically, Muslims wake up relatively early in the morning—always before sunrise— offer Salatul Fajr (the pre-sunrise prayer), and in keeping with the Sunnah (traditions and actions of the Prophet Muhammad), clean one's teeth with a Miswaak or toothbrush, take a Ghusul (shower) before Fajr prayers, put on new clothes (or the best available), and apply perfume.  
It is haraam, or forbidden, to fast on the Day of Eid. That is why it is recommended to have a small breakfast (as a sign of not fasting that day) of sweet dish, preferably the date fruit, before attending the special Eid prayer. It is a Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) that the Zakaat ul-fitr, an obligatory charity, is paid to the poor and the needy before performing the Eid prayer by all those adult Muslims who are required to pay Zakaat. Muslims recite the following Takbir (Praise) in the low voice while going to the Eid prayer: Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. Laa ilaaha ilal-lahu wal-Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa-lilla hil hamd.   
Muslims are recommended to use two separate routes to and from the prayer grounds.
Eid prayer is performed in congregation in open areas like fields, community centers, etc. or at Masjids. No adhan (Call to Prayer) or iqama (call) is to be pronounced for this Eid prayer, and it consists of only two rakaah (units of prayer) with an additional six Takbirs. The Eid prayer is followed by the khutbah (sermon) and then a supplication (dua) asking for God's forgiveness, mercy, peace and blessings for all living beings across the world. The khutbah also instructs Muslims as to the performance of rituals of Eid, such as the zakaat. Listening to the khutbah (sermon) of Eid is a necessary requirement (wajib) i.e. while the khutbah is being delivered; it is haraam (prohibited) to talk, walk about or offer prayer while the sermon is being delivered. After the prayers, Muslims visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances or hold large communal celebrations in homes, community centers or rented halls.  
Gifts on Eid are frequently given to children and immediate relatives; it is also common in some cultures for children to be given small sums of money by adult relatives or friends.

Islamic Tradition

Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan. This has to do with the communal aspects of the fast, which expresses many of the basic values of the Muslim community; i.e., 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. After the end of Ramadhan, is a big celebration of Eid.

In the Gregorian calendar

Although the date of Eid ul-Fitr is always the same in the Islamic calendar, the date in the Gregorian calendar falls approximately 11 days earlier each successive year, since the Islamic calendar is lunar and the Gregorian calendar is solar. Hence if the Eid falls in the first ten days of a Gregorian calendar year, there will be a second Eid in the last week of the same Gregorian calendar year. The Gregorian date may vary between countries depending on the local sightability of the new moon. Some expatriate Muslim communities follow the dates as determined by international sightings, while others follow the local dates of their country of residence.   
In the Islamic calendar, a new day, and therefore also Eid ul-Fitr, begins at sunset.

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