Eid al-Fitr is one of the two Islamic festivals celebrated in full glory by Muslims around the world. This year, Eid al-Fitr is expected to arrive on 17 July in most countries, while some nations such as India will mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan on the next day. Eid al-Fitr, which translates to "the festival of fast breaking", comes as a reward for those who spent the entire month of Ramadan in piety, fasting and refraining from all evil activities.
As Muslims around the world are busy prepping for the grand festival, here's a look at Eid al-Fitr, which is normally referred to as Eid or Eid ul-Fitr, and its significance:
The origin of Eid al Fitr
In 610 A.D., Prophet Mohammed had visions of angel Jibril, the Messenger of Allah, who asked the last prophet of Islam to recite certain verses after him. Over the years, angel Jibril carried the holy verses of wisdom to guide Prophet Mohammed in the righteous path of Islam, which later became the code of conduct for all Muslims and were documented in the holy book of Quran for the generations to follow.
It is believed that the holy verses of Quran were revealed to Prophet Mohammed during the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Ramadan. As a way to show gratitude for the guidance, Prophet Mohammed asked his followers to spend the month in fasting, prayers, charity and refrain from all evil acts and end the month with celebrations. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, the month which follows Ramadan, and marks the end of fasts.
Significance of Eid al Fitr
With the sighting of the crescent moon on the 29th or the 30th day of Ramadan, celebrations of Eid al-Fitr commence. While Muslims are no longer required to fast, other deeds such as charity and five prayers a day continue throughout the year. It is believed that after completing Ramadan in fasts, prayers and charity, Allah's rewards are showered in abundance. When a follower refrains from embracing his desires for the love of his religion during the holy month of Ramadan and performs the prayers of Eid al-Fitr, all the sins are washed away as if the person was just born.
Another important aspect of Eid al-Fitr is that the Islamic festival encourages brotherhood as people visit and exchange Eid wishes. Also, the charity on the day of Eid al-Fitr, known as Zakt-al-fitr (charity of fast-breaking), is different from Zakat, given during the month of Ramadan as it ensures the poor spend the festival in glory. The best time for zakt-al-fitr is on the day of Eid before the obligatory prayers.
Eid al-Fitr Celebrations
A major part of Eid al-Fitr celebrations is performing prayers of Eid in open grounds. After completing the prayer of Eid, which consists a sermon followed by a congregational prayer, people greet one another, visit close relatives and friends, hold Eid luncheons, prepare various fancy dishes plan short vacations and distribute sweets.
Things to remember on the day of Eid
- Take bath before going for prayers
- Wear one's best clothes on Eid
- Eat before going for the prayers of Eid. Something as little as dates in odd numbers should suffice.
- Walk to the grounds of Eid prayers. Not mandatory as transportation can be used for those who cannot walk or when the destination is too far.
- Constantly read Takbir (Arabic verses to praise the lord) in audible tone until one reaches the mosque or the prayer ground.
- Take different routes for going to and returning from the prayers.
- Greet one another.