With the sighting of the new crescent on the horizon heralding the new lunar month of Shawwal and signalling the departure of the fasting month of Ramadan, the Muslims who constitute nearly one fourth of the world’s population, have begun the festivities of an important date in the Islamic calendar — Eid ul Fitr, the [...]
Eid ul Fitr: A festival of joy, thanksgiving and reflection
By Siddiq Ghouse
With the sighting of the new crescent on the horizon heralding the new lunar month of Shawwal and signalling the departure of the fasting month of Ramadan, the Muslims who constitute nearly one fourth of the world’s population, have begun the festivities of an important date in the Islamic calendar — Eid ul Fitr, the festival of charity. But, it is also the time for a Muslim to sit back and reflect on his or her performance during the holy month, to which he/she has now bid adieu.
The Muslims should ask themselves what the resultant feeling in their hearts and souls on the passing of another Ramadan during which they went through the rigours of fasting.
If your answer is that “Ramadan was just fetters that were placed on me and now that I that it has ended, I have broken free and could slip back to my old carefree ways”, then the holy month has not been of benefit in the least. Its objectives as ordained by our Creator Allah Almighty lay unachieved. It is also an indication that there are deep shortcomings in your faith, requiring remedial measures in the months ahead.
If a Muslim falls short of experiencing some sense of spiritual ecstasy that the festival of Eid brings with it, it is also another signal of some drawbacks in the performance of religious devotions during Ramadan.
On the other hand, if believers feel a tinge of tearful sadness that a month of spiritual opportunity has just left them, just as if a good companion has parted, it indicates that the benefits of the Ramadan fast have sunk in deeply and hopefully embedded as a permanent fixture in their system.
There is another positive feedback: this is the feeling that it may be the last Ramadan for the believers, and in this bonus month where rewards are promised several fold, they feel they have done their maximum possible to clear the decks of sins and shortcomings before the inevitable meeting of their Lord. If there is such a rise in the believer’s human barometer display, he or she has achieved some success in Ramadan.
Palestinian women pray in front of the Dome of the Rock, on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as Temple Mount, during Laylat ul-Qadr in Jerusalem’s Old City. AFPPalestinian women pray in front of the Dome of the Rock, on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as Temple Mount, during Laylat ul-Qadr in Jerusalem’s Old City. AFP
Missing out the spiritual joys of Taraweeh and Qiyamul Lail night prayers, the Ifthar (breaking fast time), the Sahr (pre-dawn meal which there is blessing), the Lailatul Qadr (the night of power commemorating the first descent of the Quran), controlling his inner self from temptations, the charity given without batting an eyelid, and all the extra goodness and kindness meted out to the less fortunate are outpourings that emanate from a satisfied Ramadan performer.
The rejoicing of the resplendent heart on the festival day of Eid for a true devotee, especially when he or she stands up to offer the Eid prayers is an inkling of the spiritual happiness he or she will experience when he meets the Creator Allah Almighty on a day of meeting, of which there is no doubt for all mankind.
Allah says that for fasting during Ramadan the rewards will be given by Him. So prior to the start of Eid prayers it could be a commendable practice to address our Creator through our inner self with these words: “My Lord and Master I, your slave and servant, am here after obeying your commands of the Ramadan fast and awaiting my rewards which you promised and you never go back on your promise”. It amounts on a mundane plain like awaiting to obtain gifts from the king in person,but here it is the King of Kings, Allah Almighty. We should feel confident He will respond positively to our plea provided we have complied with His rulings on the fast.
On conclusion of the beautiful Eid prayer it’s an exuberating site to see Muslims greeting each other with bright faces decked in new clothes with lots of hugging and exchanging words of blessings.
Eid festival is a day which Muslims, eagerly look forward to. The little children are the happiest. They adorn themselves in colourful clothes, visit relatives and friends, receive gifts and dig into the sweet meats laid out for visitors.
Muslims are forbidden to use external stimulants like consuming alcohol, dancing with the opposite sex, singing of sensuous songs or gambling to experience the joy of the festival. The simple acts such as visiting relatives, exchanging greetings, partaking in family meals, exchanging gifts, a little sport, form part of the Muslim festivity and more joyous than stimulants that some advocate as part of an essential for festivals.
No one should run away with the idea that Islam is a dull religion; it is more liberal in many ways.
Allah says in the Quran, “O ye who believe eat of the good things what We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is Him you worship” (S2:172).This of course doesn’t mean it promotes gluttony but being a moderate religion it doesn’t deprive man of certain good gratifications.
Islam gives us many alternative methods of joy than those that generate harmful body hype. The Islamically permitted pleasures prescribed to man carries with it a consciousness of the Creator to whom he owes his existence. In other words Islam clearly states that all worldly treasures and riches and pleasures are of no value to Allah and man at all if they are not coupled with spiritual values as ordained by Allah. If only man could experience the true spiritual enjoyment that Islam brings through its methods all the mundane pleasures will disappear into oblivion. The Gnostics say you have to experience it to feel the difference.
Rejoicing on Eid day should be also followed by thanksgiving to Allah. Thank Him profusely for giving us the Holy Month of Ramadan, and the numerous benefits He has given us in our short life. We should loosen our purse strings and give out without much hesitation to our less fortunate fellow human beings as a climax to the Zakat (compulsory charity) and Sadaqa (optional charity) during Ramadan. After all charity is one of the most powerful weapons a Muslim possesses and it carries a guarantee from Allah that He will multiply it to proportions of His assessment and it is also reported that charity is a preventer of oncoming calamities.
As this Eid day progresses, Muslims are duty bound to think and feel deeply of the sufferings of their brothers and sisters across the world who are not favoured to enjoy this happy festival due to internal strife and external invasions. They too have similar emotions like us and also have children eagerly hoping to enjoy the Eid festival. After all our beloved Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said, “Those who let a day pass by without concern for a fellow Muslim is not part of my ummah (the worldwide Islam family)”.
If we are unable to help them due to various constraints, at least after thanksgiving to the Lord for the benefits that we experience, we must make an appeal to Him to alleviate their sufferings.