Id al-Fitra

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Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر ‘Īdu l-Fiṭr), often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity," while Fiṭr means "to break the fast" (and can also mean "nature," from the word "fitrah") and so symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. The fast is itself a time when Muslims are encouraged to think of those who go hungry not from choice, as in a fast but from necessity, and Zakat (the charitable tithe) is often donated as well as the obligatory alms for the breaking of the fast. Thinking of others and recognition of co-responsibility for the welfare of all Muslims is one of the chief characteristics of Eid-ul-Fitr, which lasts 3 days. Muslims give money to the poor and wear their best clothes, some Muslims stay up to watch the full moon. The feast is shared with friends, relatives and especially with those who do not have the means to celebrate themselves. Eid ul-Fitr lasts three days and is called "The Lesser Eid" (Arabic: العيد الصغير Al-eid Al-sagheer) compared with the Id al-Adha that lasts for an extra day and is called "The Greater Eid" (Arabic: العيد الكبير Al-eid Al-kabeer).

Contents

Description

On the day of the (Eid means festival) celebration, a typical Muslim family awakes very early, does the first everyday prayer, and is required to eat a little, symbolizing the end of Ramadan. They then attend special congregational prayers held in mosques, large open areas, stadiums and arenas. The prayer is generally short and is followed by a sermon (khuṭba). Worshipers greet and embrace each other with hugs in a spirit of peace and love after the congregational prayer. After the special prayers, festivities and merriment are commonly observed with visits to the homes of relatives and friends to thank God for all blessings.

Eid ul-Fitr is a joyous occasion with important religious significance, celebrating the achievement of enhanced piety. It is a day of forgiveness, moral victory, peace, fellowship, brotherhood and unity. Muslims celebrate not only the end of all that fasting but also thank God for the help and strength that they believe he gave them through the previous month to help everyone practice self-control. It is a time of giving and sharing, and many Muslims dress in holiday attire. New clothes are worn and gifts are often exchanged. Cragg writes, “It is a time of general desire after better things. Presents symbolize mutual affection and there is a surge of satisfaction and aspiration that, for Muslims, terminates an exacting discipline. Evil is somehow temporarily allayed …”[1]

Timing

Because the day depends on the sighting of the moon, the sighting can only be possible just after sunset. Many Muslims check with local mosques or other members of the community to see if the moon has been sighted by authoritative parties such as knowledgeable scholars. Although many Muslims believe the Quran says that the sighting of the moon determines the start of Eid, this is written in other books. Due to the sensitive nature of this opinion, please see below for further research on this dispute. The daily fast begins at sunrise, when a black and a white thread can be distinguished and ends when this distinction can no longer be made (Q. 2: 187).

Spelling

Eid ul-Fitr is spelled in a variety of ways in English, due to variation in Arabic pronunciation as well as influence from other languages. The spelling used in this article is commonly found in English texts, and reflects the Arabic pronunciation of Fitr فطر (Arabic: Fiṭr, Persian: Fetr) and the Arabic pronunciation of Eid عيد (Persian: Eyd, Arabic: ‘īd).

Traditions and practices

Common greetings during this holiday are the Arabic greeting EĪd mubārak ("Blessed Eid") or ‘Īd sa‘īd ("Happy Eid"). In addition, many countries have their own greetings based on local language and traditions.

Muslims are encouraged to dress in their best clothes (new if possible) and to attend a special Eid prayer that is performed in congregation at mosques or open areas like fields, squares etc. When Muslims finish their fast at the last day (29th or 30th Ramadan), they recite Takbir.[2]

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر
la ilaha illa Allah لا إله إلا الله
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر
wa li-illahi al-hamd ولله الحمد
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
There is no deity but Allah
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
and to Allah goes all praise

The Takbir is recited after confirmation that the moon of Shawwal is sighted on the eve of the last day of Ramadan. It continues until the start of the Eid prayer. Before the Eid prayer begins every Muslim, if possible(man, woman or child), must pay Zakat al Fitr, an alms for the month of Ramadan. This equates to about 2 kg of a basic foodstuff (wheat, barley, dates, raisins, etc.), or its cash equivalent, and is typically collected at the mosque. This is distributed to needy local Muslims prior to the start of the Eid prayer. It can be given at any time during the month of Ramadan and is often given early, so the recipient can utilize it for Eid purchases. This is distinct from Zakat based on wealth, which must be paid to a worthy charity but which is also often donated at this time.

Eid ul-Fitr 2005 at Dublin Mosque, Ireland.

The Eid prayer (salah) is followed by the khutba (sermon) and then a prayer (dua') asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for the plight of Muslims across the world. It is then customary to embrace the persons sitting on either side of oneself as well as ones relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Muslims spend the day thanking the Creator for all their blessings, as well as simply having fun and enjoying themselves. Children are normally given sweets or money. Women (particularly relations) are normally given special gifts by their loved ones. Eid is also the time for reconciliations. Feuds or disputes, especially between family members, are often settled on Eid.

Ahmed remarks that “special dishes are cooked” and “children, in their new, bright clothes, wait for the feast, which takes place after the prayer at the nearby mosque.” Somewhere on the table, he says, “there will always be a plate of dates (favoured by the Prophet) … Elders will give money to the poor at the mosque and to children.”[3]

Eid in Diaspora

Eid ul-Fitr in United Kingdom

There is a Bayan (speech) in which the Imam gives advice to the Muslim community and usually Muslims are encouraged to end any past animosities they may have. He then goes on to the khutbah and then the prayer itself. When the local imam declares Eid ul-Fitr everyone greets and hugs each other.

As Eid ul-Fitr is not a recognized public holiday in the United Kingdom, Muslims are obliged to attend the morning prayer, in a large ethnically Muslim area, normally schools and local businesses give exemptions to the Muslim community to take 1 day off. In the rest of the UK it is not recognized as it is not on a fixed date, however this has lead the Muslim community leaders and or organizations to come to a consolidation with the authorities. Eid is not on a fixed date as it is decided by the sighting of the moon on the night before.

In North America

North American Muslims typically celebrate the day in a quiet way. Because the day depends on the sighting of the moon, often families are not aware that the next day will be Eid until the night before. Most check with members of the community to see if the moon has been sighted by anyone. Different methods for determining the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal are used in each particular community. Because the day is determined by the natural phenomenon of sighting the crescent moon, North Americans on the eastern coast of the continent may celebrate Eid on a different day than those on the western coast.

The crescent moon can be sighted directly, but cannot be determined based on scientific calculations. Muhammad stated that Muslims should fast when they sight the moon and break fast when they sight the moon, which means Eid. Calculations can't but have been used in the past, to verify or reject alleged moon sightings. For example, sightings that occur in areas, in which sightings could not have occurred based on calculations, are typically refuted or rejected when presented without additional evidence. Typically, the end of Ramadan is announced via e-mail, postings on websites, or chain phone calls to all members of a Muslim community. Working persons usually attempt to make arrangements for a lighter work day on the days that may possibly be the Eid day, but many North American Muslims are often noted to not be able to take the entire day off.

Typically, a Muslim family in the West will wake up very early in the morning and have a small breakfast. Everyone is encouraged to dress in new and formal clothing. Many families wear traditional clothing from their respective home countries. Next the family will go to the nearest congregational prayer group to pray. The prayer may be held at the local mosque, a hotel ballroom, local arena or stadium. The Eid prayer is very important, and Muslims are encouraged to pray in a large gathering because of the rewards. After the prayer there is a Khutba (speech) in which the Imam gives some sort of advice to the Muslim community and usually Muslims are encouraged to end any past animosities they may have. After the prayer and Khutba people hug and wish each other a Happy Eid.

After the Eid prayer many people call friends and family from all over the world wishing them a Happy Eid or Eid Mubarak. The rest of Eid is spent with close family and friends. Depending on their community some Muslims have open-house parties during the day in which people exchange gifts, and wish family friends a blessed Eid. Because North American Muslims come from all parts of the world, one particular type of food cannot be identified as served on this day. Many Muslim North American families visit the homes of others to congregate on a day of celebration. Since many North American Muslims are immigrants, traditions described below may be celebrated by immigrants of these countries in their respective homes in North America.

New York's iconic Empire State Building has ben lit in green in honor of Eid-al-Fitr.

Eid in the Muslim World

In Turkey

In the Republic of Turkey, where Ramadan celebrations are infused with more national traditions, and where country-wide celebrations, religious and secular alike, are altogether referred to as Bayram, it is customary for people to greet one another with "Bayramınız Kutlu Olsun" ("May Your Bayram Be Celebrated"), "Mutlu Bayramlar" ("Happy Bayram"), or the more quaint "Bayramınız Mübarek Olsun" (May Your Bayram Be Holy," or "Holy Bayram Upon You"), while enjoying a number of local customs.

It is a time for people to attend services, put on their best clothes (referred to as "Bayramlık," often purchased just for the occasion) and to visit all their loved ones (such as friends, relatives and neighbors) and pay their respects to the deceased with organized visits to cemeteries, where large, temporary bazaars of flowers, water (for watering the plants adorning a grave), and prayer books are set up for the three-day occasion.

It is regarded as especially important to honor elderly citizens by kissing their right hand and placing it on one's forehead while wishing them Bayram greetings. It is also customary for young children to go around their neighborhood, door to door, and wish everyone a happy Bayram, for which they are awarded candy, chocolates, traditional sweets such as Baklava and Turkish Delight, or a small amount of money at every door, almost in a Halloween-like fashion.

Municipalities all around the country organize fundraising events for the poor, in addition to public shows such as concerts or more traditional forms of entertainment such as the Karagöz and Hacivat shadow-theater and even performances by the Mehter—the Janissary Band that was founded during the days of the Ottoman Empire.

Helping the less fortunate, ending past animosities and making up, organizing breakfasts and dinners for loved ones and putting together neighborhood celebrations are all part of the joyous occasion, where homes and streets are decorated and lit up for the celebrations, and television and radio channels continuously broadcast a variety of special Bayram programs.

In Iran

In the predominantly Shia culture of Iran, Eid is a highly personal event, and celebrations are often more muted. Called Eyde Fetr by most Iranians, charity is important on that day. Public Eid prayers are held in every Mosque and in public places. Visiting the elderly and gathering with families and friends is also very common. Typically, each Muslim family gives food to those in need. Often meat or ghorbani (literally translated as sacrifice, for it is usually a young lamb or calf that is sacrificed for the occasion), which is an expensive food item in Iran, will be given by those in wealthier families to those who have less. Payment of fitra or fetriye is obligatory for each Muslim.

In Pakistan and Bangladesh

At the end of the Holy month of Ramadan, in which the Muslims are asked to observe fasting from dawn to dusk and do extra prayers and observe religious values rigidly, the Muslims celebrate the sighting of the new moon (start of the new Muslim month). In Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, the night before Eid is called Chand Raat, or night of the moon. People visit bazaars and shopping malls, with their families and children, for last minute Eid shopping. Women, especially young girls, often paint each others' hands with traditional "henna" and wear colorful bangles.

The popular way of greeting in Bangladesh & Pakistan during celebration of this festival is to say Eid Mubarak to others. Children are encouraged to greet their elders. In exchange for this they also expect to obtain some cash money, called Eidi, from the elders.

On the morning of Eid ul-Fitr, after taking a fresh bath, every Muslim is encouraged to wear new clothes, if they can afford so. Alternatively, they may wear clean washed clothes. Men and boys go to mosque or open fields called Eidgah for special Eid prayers, thanking God for enabling a Muslim to observe the holy month meaningfully. The Muslims are ordained to pay Zakat al-Fitr (special charity money) or fitra to the poor and needy before the Eid prayer, so that they can also join others to celebrate the Eid. After the prayers, the congregation is dispersed and the Muslims meet and greet each other including family members, children, elders, friends and neighbors. Some Muslims especially go to graveyards to pray for the salvation of the departed soul. Usually, children visit elder relatives and neighbors to pay respects and greetings.

One of the special dishes in Pakistan and Fiji is sivayyan, a dish of fine, toasted vermicelli noodles.[4] In Bangladesh, sivayyan is called shemai, and is an integral item of Eid dishes.

After meeting the friends and relatives, many people go for attending parties, feasts, special carnivals and festivities in the parks (with picnics, fireworks, and so on). In Bangladesh and Pakistan, many bazaars, malls, and restaurants witness huge crowd & high attendance during this principal Muslim festival.

Some people also avail this opportunity to distribute Zakat, the Islamic obligatory alms tax on one's wealth, to the needy.

In Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei

In Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, Eid is also commonly known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa. Hari Raya literally means "Grand Day" or "The Day." Muslims in Malaysia and Singapore celebrate Eid like other Muslims throughout the world. It is the biggest holiday in Malaysia and is the most awaited one. Shopping malls and bazaars are filled with people days ahead of Hari Raya, causing a distinctive festive atmosphere throughout the country. Many banks, government and private offices are closed for this holiday, which usually lasts a week.

The night before Eid is with the takbir which is held in the mosques or musallas. In many parts of Malaysia, especially in rural areas, pelita or panjut (oil lamps) are lit up in house compounds. Eid also witnesses a huge migratory pattern of Muslims, from big metropolitan cities to rural areas. This is known as balik kampung—literally going back to home town to celebrate Eid with one's parents. Special dishes like ketupat, dodol, lemang (a type of glutinous rice cake cooked in bamboo), and other Malay delicacies are served during this day.

It is common to greet people with "Selamat Hari Raya" or "Salam Aidilfitri" which means "Happy Eid." Muslims also greet one another with "maaf zahir dan batin" which means "Forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)," because Eid ul-Fitr is not only for celebrations but also the time for Muslims to cleanse their sins and strengthen their ties with relatives and friends.

It is customary for Malays to wear traditional Malay cultural outfit on the Eid. The outfit for men is called baju melayu which is worn together with kain samping (made out of songket) and songkok (a dark coloured headgear) while the women's are known as baju kurung and baju kebaya. It is also common to see non-Malay Muslims wear costumes of their culture.

Once the prayer is completed, it is also common for Muslims in Malaysia to visit the graves of loved ones. During this visit, they clean the grave, recite Ya-Seen, a chapter (surah) from the Qur'an and also perform the tahlil ceremony. All these are done to ask for God to forgive the dead and also those who are living.

The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives or serving visitors. Eid ul-Fitr is a very joyous day for children for on this day adults are especially generous. Children will be given token sums of money, also known as "duit raya," from their parents or elders.[5][6]

In Indonesia

Ketupat is traditionally eaten on Eid ul-Fitr in Indonesia.

In Indonesia the feast is named Hari Raya Idul Fitri or informally, Lebaran. Hari Raya literally means The Great Day of (Celebration). Sometimes, there are different statements on when the day falls, especially between Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, because people use different techniques to determine it. Almost all of the people follow the government of Indonesia's statement and such differences do not get in the way of people celebrating. This event is recognized as a national holiday, starts a few days before Eid ul-Fitr, and lasts until days after it. Schools also have different schedules for the holiday as many Islamic schools usually make it a longer holiday.

Muslims in Indonesia usually ask forgiveness from their relatives and friends after the special prayer. Another interesting Eid ul-Fitr tradition in Indonesia is mudik that usually applies to urbanites who came to Jakarta from the other provinces of Java or other islands in Indonesia. Before Eid ul-Fitr comes, people will go back to their hometowns where their relatives, sometimes including their parents, reside. This event often causes crowding in airports, seaports, and bus stations while some who are traveling by car are trapped in the traffic jam for hours. For little children, gifts ofmoney as well as forgiveness from relatives is common to motivate them. Many, especially in the cities, also use the term angpau for the money just like Chinese people do.

It is common to greet people with "Selamat Hari Raya" (Indonesian) or "Salam Aidilfitri" (Malay) which means "Happy Eid." Muslims also greet one another with "Mohon maaf lahir dan batin" which means "Forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)," because Eid ul-Fitr is not only for celebrations, but also the time for Muslims to cleanse their sins and strengthen their silaturrahim with relatives and friends. The term "fitr" in Eid ul Fitr, coincides with the word "fitrah" of the Indonesian language which means the purity of birth, just as babies are pure when they were born. Many Indonesian Muslims acknowledge that on the day of Eid when they forgive each other, their sins with each other are cleansed and they are without sin just as they were at birth.

At the night of the last day of Ramadan, Indonesians usually do "Takbiran." Takbiran is a big celebration where people, from little children to old men, recite the takbir with a microphone in a parade. They travel around the town and usually they hit "beduk," a large drum, as a background music of the takbir.

In the Philippines

Philippines, with a majority Christian population, has recognized Eid ul-Fitr as a regular holiday by virtue of Republic Act No. 9177 and signed on November 13, 2002. The law was enacted in deference to the Filipino Muslim community and to promote peace among major religions in the Philippines. The first public holiday was set on December 6, 2002. Many non-Muslim Filipinos are still unfamiliar to the new holiday, and many calendars in the Philippines don't have this holiday listed.

Eid and the Gregorian calendar

Although Eid ul-Fitr is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year, much like Easter, since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Eid may also vary from country to country depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not.

Disagreement on date and moonsighting

Some issues, not specified by the Quran, are interpreted differently by different Muslims. One such issue is how to determine the start and end of the holy month and what day to begin the celebration of the holiday.

Arising from this is that different communities may find themselves anticipating different holiday dates, which may cause confusion, particularly for Muslims living in the western world, for example, who may need to request vacation days in advance for the sake of their holidays only to find their Eid date is pushed back or forward on the last day.

Quran’s instructions

Islam is based on a lunar calendar, which means the month of Ramadan can be either 29 or 30 days long. The calculation for the Lunar year is emphasized in the Quran:

10:5 He is the One who rendered the sun radiant, and the moon a light, and He designed its phases that you may learn to count the years and to calculate. GOD did not create all this, except for a specific purpose. He explains the revelations for people who know.

The calculation for the Solar year is emphasized in the following verse.

17:12 We rendered the night and the day two signs. We made the night dark, and the day lighted, that you may seek provisions from your Lord therein. This also establishes for you a timing system, and the means of calculation. We thus explain everything in detail.

The Quran does not mention a necessity to actually sight the new moon, however, numerous traditions (hadith) of the Prophet imply such. Islamic law is based on both the Quran and Sunnah.

Many scholars also argue that moon sighting must in fact be done with the human eye and that calculations are not to be used to determine the beginning and ending of fasting. Others argue that the strict use of calculations as opposed to physical sighting is a deviation from the traditions of the Prophet. Some accept that the use of calculations is necessary to verify or reject alleged sightings, as was done by past scholars.

Notes

  1. Cragg, 104.
  2. Takbeer Arabic with Englsh, Arabic audio clip with English meaning. Retrieved December 14, 2007.
  3. Ahmed, 40.
  4. Margaert, Shaida, Food Events—Eid Celebrations, BBC. Retrieved November 13, 2007.
  5. All Malaysiainfo, "Hari Raya Puasa." Retrieved December 13 2007.
  6. Mimi Syned Yusof & Shahrul Hafeez, "When Raya was a bewildering experience" New Straits Times (2005): 8.

References

  • Ahmed, Akbar S. Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World. London: I. B Tauris, 2002. ISBN 1960642578.
  • Cragg, Kenneth. The Call of the Minaret. Oxford: Oneworld, 2000. ISBN 1851682104.
  • Esposito, John L. Islam: The Straight Path. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0195112342.

External links

All links retrieved April 2, 2014.

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