Held on 1st day of Shawwal month of the Hijri year
What is Eid Ul Fitr?
Eid Ul Fitr is predominantly a Muslim Festival which is celebrated for 3 days. It is an occasion to get united with the supreme god 'Allah' and express gratitude towards god for looking after humans. It is also a ‘Day of Forgiveness’, ‘Thanksgiving’ and ‘Day of peace’ as on this day Muslims assemble in congregation to pray for forgiveness and thankfulness; praying itself establishes peace within the heart. It is celebrated after the long fasting month of Ramadan (the 9th month of the Islamic calendar), on the first day of the Shawwal month of the Hijri year (Islamic calendar). As per Islamic historical records - the Qur'an (holy book of muslims) was revealed to Prophet Mohammed in the last 10 days of Ramadan. Eid is an Arabic word which means ‘Festivity’ and ‘Fitr’ means ‘Conclusion of the Fast’, thus the holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. EID UL FITR VIDEO
On this day many Muslims attend communal prayers and listen to 'Khutba' (sermons) and give 'Zakat Al-fitr' (charity to poor people). It is a major festival of the Muslim community around the globe and as such is a well known festival throughout the world. Though an Islamic festival, the spirit of this festival is so overwhelming that many Non-Muslims participate in Eid celebrations. The festival is sometimes also known as the ‘Smaller Eid’ as compared to the ‘Eid al-Adha’, which lasts for 4 days following the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and is casually referred to as the ‘Greater Eid’. However, in Southeast Asian countries it is the opposite; here Eid-ul-Fitr is considered greater than Eid al-Adha and is the most important feast. Muslims are commanded by God in the Qur'an to complete their fast until the last day of Ramadan. Eid Ul Fitr dates are not fixed; they keep on changing as Islam uses a lunar calendar. As per the lunar calendar, each month begins with the sighting of the new moon. Because the lunar calendar is about 11 days shorter than the solar calendar used elsewhere, Islamic holidays move each year. The Moon sighting of Eid Ul Fitr can occur earlier or later in specific locations. Therefore, many Muslims in different communities, for example on the east and west coasts of the USA and Canada, may begin the Eid-al-Fitr celebrations on different dates.
Eid Ul Fitr History
As per Islamic Historians, one night during the month of Ramadan, in the year 610 A.D., Prophet Muhammad was meditating in Mount Hira. While meditating, the Prophet had a vision of the angel Jibril (also known as Gabriel). The angle introduce himslef as the messenger of God. Jibril said to him: ‘Iqraa’ (meaning read or recite). Muhammad replied that he could not read. Jibril embraced Muhammad and after releasing him repeated: ‘Iqraa.’ Muhammad answered again that he could not read. Jibril hugged Muhammad for a third time and asked him to recite what he said.
The angel said ‘Recite in the name of your Lord who creates. Creates man from a clot. Recite: And your Lord is the Most Bountiful who teaches by the pen, He teaches man what he does not know'. This was the First verse of the holy Quran. However, Muhammad was not convinced; he thought Jibril was an evil spirit or a demon. Muhammad was disturbed but his wife Khadijah convinced him that he was a man of good conduct and as such he cannot be visited by an evil spirit. His fear was further allayed by his much learned cousin, Waraqa ibn Nawfal. She convinced him that Jibril was indeed a messenger of God and that the angle was the same angel who had also visited the Hebrew prophet Moses. Muhammad was of forty years of age at this time. In the following 23 years, Jibril visited Muhammad many times and taught him the holy knowledge in verses. This sacred knowledge consists of the code of conduct that Allah wants his people to maintain on earth. It is inscribed in verses which are compiled in the holy Qur'an. As a mark of respect to Allah and to show gratitude to him for the true knowledge that he gave to the people, the prophet asked his to pass the month of Ramadan in fasting, prayers and other austerities and end the month-long non-indulgence with festive celebrations. This practice laid the foundation of Eid-Ul-Fitr.
The first Eid was celebrated in 624 CE by the Prophet Muhammad with his friends and relatives after the victory of the battle of Jang-e-Badar. It was a battle between the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina.
Eid Ul Fitr Traditions, Activities and Events
Ramadan is a holy month as it is considered that the gates of hell are closed and the gates of heaven are open. Therefore, one should indulge in good conduct in order to be considered worthy of place in heaven. Ramadan, as a long month observance is also known as ‘Month of Blessing’ because it focuses on self-sacrifice and commitment to the Muslim God. It is also believed that Ramadan is Allah’s own month as people thank Allah for everything that has been given to human beings. In their act of thanks, muslims say no to food, drink, smoke and sexual activities and devote themselves towards praying to the god. There are 3 parts to the month of Ramadan: Rahmat, or mercy of God; Maghfirat, or forgiveness of God; and Nijat, or salvation. Each period lasts about 10 days, or one-third of the entire month. On the last day of Ramadan (the month of revelation and fasting) after sunset, people start sighting the crescent moon. As soon as the moon (hilal) is spotted the celebrations for the Eid-ul-fitr begins for all the Muslims. It is common for Islamic communities organize communal meals. Many Muslims in India also wear new clothes, visit family members, exchange Eid cards and give presents of sweets and small toys to children.
Fasting – The Muslims practice of fasting is known as ‘Sawm’ which means ‘Fasting for the entire month of Ramadan'. As per the practice of fasting they may eat or drink nothing, including water, while the sun shines. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars (duties) of Islam. As with other Islamic duties, all able Muslims take part in sawm from about age twelve. During Ramadan in the Muslim world, most restaurants are closed during the daylight hours. Families get up early for ‘Suhoor’. Suhoor is a meal eaten before the sun rises. After the sun sets, the fast is broken with a meal known as ‘Iftar’. Iftar usually begins with dates and sweet drinks that provide a quick energy boost. Fasting is a means of learning self-control. As per the Muslim traditions by observing fast, one can be more close to Allah as he/she is giving body a second place to his/her bodily pleasures and needs. Fasting has many other objectives – it is a method to experience hunger and develop compassion for the less fortunate. It is a lesson to be thankful and appreciative of God's innumerable blessing. Fasting is also good for the health as it provides a break in the cycle of rigid habits.
Salatul Fajr – Salatul Fajr also known as ‘Salatul-Eid’ is the Eid Prayer performed before sunrise. People wake up before sunrise and keeping with the Sunnah (traditions and actions of the Prophet Muhammad), clean one's teeth with a Miswaak or toothbrush, take a shower (Ghusul) put on new clothes and apply perfume. It is only after this that they offer this prayer. It is considered ‘Haraam’(unholy), to fast on the Day of Eid. Therefore a small breakfast is consumed to show that is not a fast day. This meal consists of sweet dish, preferably date fruit, before attending the Salah or Salat (special Eid prayer).
Eid Ul Fitr Prayer – Eid day prayer is known as Eid-ul-Fitr Salat. No ‘Aadhan’ (call to prayer) or ‘Iqama’ (call) is pronounced for this Eid prayer. Devotees recite the following Takbir (incantation) in a 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’. The prayer is performed in open areas like fields, community centres, mosques etc. Another recommended Sunnah of Muhammad Muslims is - to use two separate routes to and from the prayer grounds or large hall (Eid-gaah). It is ‘Wajib’ (strong custom) or 'Mandoob' (preferable) – depending on which juristic opinion is followed – Islamic prayer consisting of 2 ‘Raka'ah’ (units) which is generally offered in Eed-ga’. This salaat can only be performed with Jama’at (i.e., in congregation) and has an additional extra 6 ‘Takbirs’ (raising of the hands to the ears while saying Allahu Akbar meaning God is Great), 3 of them in the beginning of the 1st Raka'ah and 3 of them just before ‘Ruku' in the 2nd ‘Raka'ah’ in the Hanafi school. After the prayer, Khutab (sermons) is delivered and ‘Dua’ (request) is performed. Dua is the practice of asking for God's forgiveness, mercy, peace and blessings for all living beings across the world. During the sermons talking, walking or any other activity is forbidden. At many mosques during Ramadan, about one thirtieth of the Qur'an is recited each night in prayers known as ‘Tarawih’. In this way, by the end of the month the complete scripture will have been recited. After the prayers, social visits take place either at home or at large communal celebrations in community centres or rented halls. Eedis (Eid gifts) are frequently given to children and immediate relatives; it is also common in some cultures for children to be given small sums of money (Eidis) by adult relatives or friends. Common greetings during this holiday are the Arabic greeting ‘Eid Mubarak (blessed eid) or ‘Eid Sa‘eed (Happy Eid).
Charity - Sadaqat-ul-fitr or ‘Sadaqah al-fitr’ (charity of fast-breaking) is an obligatory charity and a Sunnah (prophetic tradition). It is to be distributed amongst the poor and the needy before performing the Eid prayer by all adult Muslims (male or female) who can pay Zakat (money meant for charity). It can also be paid during Ramadan or just few days before Eid. Those who have missed out in doing so can give alms during Eid al-Fitr. This charity is known as ‘Zakat al-fitr’. It consists of a quantity of food, such as barley, dates, raisins or wheat flour, or its monetary equivalent given to poor people in the community. This is done to ensure that the needy can have a holiday meal and participate in the celebration.
Importance of Eid Ul Fitr
Eid-ul-Fitr unites all Muslims in fasting, feasting, worship and prayer. The festival promotes peace, strengthens the feeling of brotherhood and brings oneself back to the normal course of life after a month-long period of self-denial and religious devotion. Fasting, praying and charity teach us empathy for the poor, worship, steadfastness and patience. 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. The festival 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.
Eid Ul Fitr around the World
Eid Ul Fitr Celebrations are common in various parts of the world, like – Turkey, Qatar, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Philippines, Tunisia, Fiji, Nigeria and other nations. It is also celebrated in non-islamic nations like Australia, United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom and China.
Eid Ul Fitr in Saudi Arabia – Of all the Eid celebrations, Saudi Arabian Eid is well renowned all over the world. The primary reason being that it is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, Islam is the official religion in Saudi Arabia. The economic prosperity of the nation also contributes towards the great pomp and revelry associated with Eid celebrations. Here, the generosity and hospitable traditions of the Saudi people are seen in full glory during the celebrations. This is evident by the fact that it is a tradition in some areas to buy and anonymously place large quantities of rice and other staples at the doors of the needy. Some of the people will event present gifts and toys to children of complete strangers. They will also greet anyone, anywhere in the spirit of Eid. Keeping up with the spirit of generosity, many shopkeepers offer huge discounts and or offer free gifts with every or certain purchase.
Traditionally, Saudis decorate their homes and prepare sumptuous meals for family and friends. A common tradition amongst Saudis is the gathering of families at the patriarchal home after the Eid prayers. Before the special Eid meal is served, young children line up in front of each adult family member who presents Riyals (Saudi currency) to the children. Presents in the form of beautifully decorated gift bags containing candies and toys are also given to the children.
Alternate Names – Eid al-Fitr, Id-ul-Fitr, Id al-Fitr, Eid, Festival of Eid, Festival of Fast Breaking, Festival of Breaking the Fast, The Festival of Gratitude, Ramzan, Ramzan Id, Eid-ul-Fitar, Idul-Fitr.
Holiday Status - In India, it is a Gazetted Holiday. In most Muslim countries, the entire 3-day period is an official government/school holiday.