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24th December 2000
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Eid Ul Fitr: fulfilling aspirations of the poor and needy

By Muhammed Fowzul Aleem Farook

"O Ummah of Muhammed (peace be upon Him) come forth from your houses towards Allah who is noble and gracious, who grants much and pardons the major sins." This is how on the morning of Eid Ul Fitr the angels of Allah (Malaaikah) call out to Muslims.

When the believers proceed for Eid prayers, Almighty Allah says to the angels: "What indeed is the reward of that employee who had rendered his services? The Malaaikah reply; O our Lord and master, it is only right that he shall receive his reward in full for his services." Allah then proclaims, "I call you to witness, O my Malaaikah, that for their having fasted for me during the month of Ramadhan and for their having stood before me in prayers by night, I have granted to them as reward my pleasure and forgiveness."

Those people who brighten the holy Month of Ramadhan - the only month which Allah has mentioned in the Holy Quran, are promised bountiful blessings, forgiveness and eternal bliss.

Though we celebrate the festival, many a devotee regrets to bid farewell to this holy month as our holy Prophet Muhammed said: "If my followers were to realise what Ramadhan really was, they would wish the whole year should just be Ramadhan". With the dawn of new Shavaal moon, Ramadhan fasting, Tharaveeh prayers and paying of zakat, which is recommended in this month, will come to an end but other obligations, such as, prayers five times a day, recitation of Holy Quran and distribution of charity will continue.

Islam has two festivals for its followers, namely; Eid Ul Fitr - the Ramadhan festival and Eid Ul Azha the Haj Festival. Both are to be celebrated after some sacrifices, for then they are valued more.

Eid ul Fitr is celebrated on completion of 29 or 30 days of fasting, which is a great sacrifice made against the needs of the body and soul. Here celebration of the festival gives immense satisfaction to followers who actively engage in attentive Ibdat (religious observance), day and night, in the holy month of Ramadhan, sacrificing and controlling their desires.

The noteworthy feature of the festival is that the day begins with the festival prayers in the mosque. Believers clad in new clothes flock in large numbers to offer prayers. Once the congregational prayer is over, Muslims greet each other with the salutation "Thakabal Allahu Minna Wa Minka" (O Allah accept us and others), thus forgetting past differences. Much needed unity and brotherhood is established

The Ramadhan festival is termed Eid Ul Fitr because it gives prominence to fulfilling the aspirations of the poor and needy. Affluent and faithful Muslims, who understand the pangs of hunger and consider the feelings of the poor through Ramadhan fasting, visit the needy and assist them with food, clothing and cash. Islam orders every Muslim with means to give at least two full measures of rice as 'Sadaqathul Fitr' before going out for festival prayers the following morning.

This Sadaqathul Fitr frees the poor of the necessity of going around (looking for alms) on this day and helps them to feel rich.

One should not forget that among the poor, there are righteous and faithful followers who, through fasting, attain contentment and happiness. They are always grateful to their lord and care not for their sustenance.

Soon after the Eid prayers, the Muslims go to the burial grounds to invoke the mercy of Allah and his forgiveness for the dead. While visiting the grave one should say "Peace be upon you, O people of the grave. May Allah pardon you and pardon us. You are forerunners and we are in your foot-steps." The visit to the graves acts as a reminder of what to expect next.

This visit teaches us that on no occasion should our mind be immersed in fun and frolic, thus neglecting the remembrance of Almighty Allah and life after death. We must always remember Almighty Allah who will save us from total annihilation and a worse predicament.

May Allah accept our religious observances performed during the holy month of Ramlan and reward us in this world as well as in the hereafter.

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