THE month-long fast of the month of Ramadan is nearing end and the Eid day is a week away. Eid Al-Fitr is the most important festival in the Islamic calendar (Muslim holiday). The day does not mark any historical event or episode; but its existence provides the Muslim for an occasion to offer thanks to Allah for having given him the strength and the will to observe fast during Ramadan.
It is a day of joy, bonding, helping one another and spreading happiness all over the globe. However, the purpose of Eid is deeper than mere celebrations and relaxation. Lexically, Eid in Arabic is derived from awd i.e. to return or recur. Thus, in the past when an afflicted community found relief and erstwhile prosperity and comfort returned, that occasion was called Eid. In Islam, after the month-long fast and as also at the end of Haj the human soul returns to its pristine state of cleanliness and purity; hence the celebrations of Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.
Eid is also an occasion for prayers when the Muslims gather in large congregations, standing shoulder to shoulder, to demonstrate the equality and equity which is the inherent feature of Islamic society all over the world.
But the greatest significance of this day of rejoicing lies in the fact that on this day every Muslim is enjoined to give the needy food at the rate of the prescribed weight per member of his household, including servants and guests who were sheltered under his roof the preceding evening.
Eid Al-Fitr then serves a three-fold purpose: It places upon every Muslim the obligation to remember Allah and offer Him thanks; it affords him an opportunity of spiritual stock-taking in that he can now ponder over the strength of his will or the weakness of his character, as the case may be, which manifested itself during the preceding month (Ramadan); it also is the day for the haves to share a portion of what they have with the have-nots.
And, for those who disobeyed this command of Allah this is the day of an end to the month-long pangs of conscience, inner struggle and continuous realization of the feebleness of their character. No more will they have to argue, without much conviction, against fasting.
No more will they have to think up an excuse every morning for not fasting. Almost everyone realizes the spiritual, social, scientific and medical benefits which are derived from fasting. But so far as a Muslim, a true believer, is concerned, it should be sufficient that fasting is prescribed in the Holy Book of Allah, and as such is the command of Allah. Should one seek to justify Allah’s commands?
The measure of a man’s love for his Creator is his unquestioned obedience to the commands of the Creator. When for whole month a Muslim has obeyed Allah, unquestioningly, without complaint, without regret, and when he has spent his time in prayers, in humility and in charity, should one wonder, if at the end of this period, the Creator may Himself turn to such creature of His and say: “It is now for thee to ask for Me to give.”
Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, is the period when man is subject to a supreme test.
Without compulsion, without coercion, the Muslims throughout the world obey Allah; and every day from dawn to sunset abstain not only from sensual pleasures but even from the necessities of life like food and drink.
Some do this in shivering cold, some in burning heat, some do it where days are short and others where days are interminably long.
The rich fast as well as the poor, the master as well as the servant; the parents as well as the child; the ruler as well as the subject. They all fast, regardless of the color or their social position.
Having done this, for one whole month, on the auspicious day of Eid Al-Fitr, every Muslim should be ready to face the year that lies ahead with renewed strength, greater understanding and universal goodwill.
He has fasted to acquire piety, discipline and self-control. Now the habit of unquestioning obedience to Allah is cultivated in his heart and mind. He is now trained to accept the commands of Allah, in the remaining eleven months of the year, with the same unwavering loyalty. He has emerged from the month of Ramadan with a new personality and a stronger character, confident of his ability to subordinate his desire to His will, his emotion to His intellect.
No longer will it be difficult for him to refrain from intoxicating drinks; no longer will he turn away from his less fortunate brethren; no longer will he fail to understand and appreciate the pain of hunger, the pangs of thirst.
So the training period of Ramadan is coming to an end. Now we will be entering the era of normal activities of life. If the lessons which we learn during Ramadan have left their marks upon our character, we are entitled to celebrate when Eid comes next week.
On the day of Eid, a family gets up very early and attends special prayers held only for the occasion in big mosques, in large open areas, stadiums or arenas. The festivities and merriment start after the prayers with visits to the homes of friends and relatives and thanking the Creator for all blessings. Eid is a time to come together as a community and to renew friendship and family ties. This is a time for peace for all Muslims in the world to devote to prayers and mutual well-being.
It’s a joyous occasion with important religious significance. Happiness is observed at attaining spiritual uplift after a month of fasting. Muslims dress in holiday attire. After attending the special congregational prayer in the morning, worshippers greet and embrace each other in a spirit of peace, love, and brotherhood. Visiting friends and relatives is common.
For Muslims, Eid Al-Fitr is a joyful celebration of the achievement of enhanced piety. It is a day of forgiveness, moral victory and peace, of congregation, fellowship, brotherhood and unity. Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting, but thanking God for the help and strength that he gave them throughout the previous month to help them practice self-control.
• Courtesy of qul.org.au