Today Muslims in Saudi Arabia will celebrate Eid and Muslims in India would mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan – a month of fasting, alms giving, and worship. They celebrate Eid to show thankfulness to Allah for allowing them to finish and be able to fulfil their obligation by fasting.
But what is Eid, and why do Muslims celebrate it? Here is everything to know about Eid al Fitr:
What is Eid al Fitr?
Eid al Fitr, meaning ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’, celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Eid is announced at the beginning of the tenth month of the Islamic calendar called Shawwal, which follows the month of Ramadan. The sighting of the moon is therefore essential in announcing the start of a new lunar month.
This year, Eid begins on June 4 and ends on June 5, marking the Ramadan 29 – or the 29th day of fasting – which falls on June 3. Muslims worldwide will celebrate the religion’s 1,440th end of fasting.
Why is Eid important?
Eid follows Ramadan, which marks the month in which the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammed, who Muslims consider the final Prophet and who they honour by adding the term ‘peace be upon him’.
There are two Eids in Islam. Eid al Fitr also referred to like the smaller Eid, and Eid al Adha or ‘Festival of the Sacrifice’ which is the more significant Eid.
Muslims Eid is also an opportunity for Muslims to show thankfulness to God in the hope of having past sins forgiven and a chance to wipe the slate clean.
Significance of Ramadan Month and Eid?
The month of Ramadan and Eid celebration also signifies the achievement of communication with the divine spirit and religious merits, characterized by sacrifice, self-discipline, and charity. With fasting, prayers, and charity, one becomes a modest person and attains self-control.
This fasting means one has to cease from food, beverages, and sexual relations primarily. This practice of giving up basic and bodily needs and desires makes a person stronger by cultivating the qualities of self-control, self-righteousness, and self-discipline. This is the month of sincere devotion, and people learn how to be happy with minimal things. One is also abstained from using slang language or cuss words. No modes of entertainment like music, TV, movies, dancing, or singing, is allowed because these things would distract one from the thought of the Almighty.
Only the senior citizens, patients of asthma or diabetes or any such severe disease, pregnant woman, children, and sports personalities, are exempted from this fasting. But again, it depends on the belief and the body system of a person whether he/she should fast or not. Some family allows children to keep half-fast so that they learn about the festival from a young age.
Why Do We Celebrate Eid?
The three primary reasons for celebrating Eid-Al-Fitr are narrated below:
1) Showing gratitude towards God for being a constant guide in the fasting month of Ramadan.
2) Going to the Mosque and praying at least five times a day and asking God for forgiveness.
3) To carry out the act of charity towards the poor and needy, and it is called “Zakat-Al-Fitr.”
How is the start of Eid determined?
Like Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr begins with the first sighting of the new moon, so most of the time Muslims have to wait until the night before Eid to verify its date.
The date changes annually on the Gregorian calendar and varies from country to country depending on geographical location.
To declare the start of Eid, Muslim-majority countries depend on the testimonies of local moon sighters. The Judicial High Court then decides if Eid has arrived.
When the sighting has been verified, Eid is declared on televisions, radio stations and at mosques.
What do Muslims do on Eid?
A few days before Eid, every adult Muslim, who has food in surplus to requirement, irrespective of whether they could fast or not, has to pay Zakat al Fitr, which is a small amount of money that is then redistributed so that people in need can also enjoy Eid.
On the day of Eid, Muslims prepare by taking a shower, wearing perfume and donning new clothes. Across the world, Muslims will dress in their best traditional costumes in a show of global diversity.
As Muslims make their way to the prayer, they will praise God by saying ‘Allahu Akbar’, meaning ‘God is great’.
While very young children do not fast, Eid is also when they will receive gifts, sweets and money from family members.
How do you wish someone a ‘Happy Eid’?
Muslims will also generally say a variation of ‘Eid Mubarak’ or ‘Eid Saeed’, which mean ‘Have a blessed Eid’ and ‘Happy Eid’ respectively.
So, we all are wishing everyone “Eid Mubarak “