In the society today, people hold different beliefs and practices. These practices give individuals a sense of belonging as well as feelings of appreciation that strengthen their beliefs in society. As part of the beliefs and practices, religion enables people to confine themselves to certain undertakings that differentiate them from others. The practices that are observed include festivals, and symbols ranging from structural and bodily signs and descriptions(PR, Newswire). Each practice is performed in a unique way depending with the specific sect or group of people sharing the same norm.
In Islam, two major festivals that have been annulled in the calendar of Muslim religion are held annually. Both festivals precipitate the religious requirement of observing the holy month of Ramadan. In the month of Ramadan, as Muslims, we engage in fasting and praying as is required by our religion. Since it is the fourth pillar of our duties as Muslims, some sacred activities take place, such as; complete abstinence from engaging in sexual activities, staying the whole day without fooduntil stipulated times when we assemble together to have our meals. Exceptions are specifically for underage children, expectant mothers and sick individuals in the society.
Since the Islamic calendar follows the moon, the celebrations do not have a specific date but in the Muslim calendar, Ramadan is celebrated on the ninth month. After a successful Ramadan, we hold a festival that has been regarded as the widely celebrated festival on the annual calendar of Muslims(Obama).While both festivals start with the word Eid, which is an Arabic word for something that is repeated after a certain interval, Eid al Fitr coincides with Ramadan while Eid ul-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of when we are observing Dhul Hijja as per the Islamic calendar.Also the differences further moves to the days of celebration where we celebrate Eid ul Fitr for one day and Eid ul-Adha for four days.
During the 2013 celebration of this important festival in our calendar, anticipations were glooming in the air as we waited to spot the moon in the sky. As astronauts and scientists had predicted, the date was August, 8. As narrated in the holy Quran, the festivalis identified by Prophet Muhammad as he transited from Mecca to medina.
“When the Prophet arrived in Medina, he found people celebrated two specific days in which they used to entertain themselves with recreation and merriment. He asked them about the nature of these festivities to which they replied that these days were occasions of fun and recreation. At this, the Prophet remarked that the Almighty has fixed two days [of festivity] instead of these for you which are better than these: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.”
As it is required in the morning of the great day, we assemble in the church for Eid prayers, as custom provides, the five daily prayers are recited. The feeling was great since every Muslim wants to feel part of the congregation in the mosque and that year was a year to reckon since the environment was favourable even as we prepared for the festival that was held in the grounds. The bath and the new clothes that we wore dignified purified as a result of observance of the holy month of Ramadan.
On the eve of the festival, we stayed awake all night on the would-be good festival. Also regarded as a fundamental factor during Eid ul Fitr is going by the provision of the five pillars of Islam. Due to plenty of favors, we expect from God, there were a number of activities that we engaged in, such as preparing plenty of food and sharing it with the needy as well as decorating our houses. All through the festival, the greeting, Eid Mubarak, which means -have a blessed Eid- becomes the talk of town or the main greeting upon meeting.
Unlike in previous days when Eid would only be celebrated in specialized areas, such as travelling to Mecca to mark the end of the holy month, nowadays, it is held everywhere to enable every individual from all walks of life to have a glimpse of what really happens. Eid-ul-Fitr is also a time for personal meditation and intercession on behalf of others to get guidance from Allah in the day to day endeavors.Some acts that uplift the well being of fellow members of the society are also observed such as through Zakat and Fitrana. Children also benefit during this period as they are pampered with new clothes to make this great event.
After the public prayers, individuals engage in celebration in different places and different combination, for instances, families may decide to have communal celebrations. Also notable is the fact that different routes are taken after prayers as in the case of Prophet Muhammad. There is also the portrayal of Islam as a strong religion.
Due to time constraints and the fact that this Muslim holiday is not always recognized in western countries, some Muslims are unable to participate in more than a few hours of celebration. There is a relative differentiation from how Muslims celebrate this festival depending on the countries they are from. Eid requires one to have time for family, as well as show empathy and concern for the less fortunate in the society(Khan 64). There are gatherings of family and friends for breakfast, brunch or lunch. It is an occasion for visits, greetings, love and good wishes. It also acts as an opportunity to make good will in cases where individuals had disagreed.
Families and institutions that are unable to raise food during these festivities receive food and other commodities during this period. Depending on the country of origin and the staple food of Muslims in that particular country, individuals prepare enough food that is consumed by everyone including non-Muslims. Gifts, money and sweets are usually given to children and some adults exchange gifts too. Celebrations differ from community to community. Other social activities, such as nature walks, picnics and competitions are also held to bring the members together. Making new friends and reconciliation of old peers also takes place.
With the freedom of movement experienced during the season and the need to do well in the society, some individuals decide to visit graveyards. Individuals are however advised to desist from visiting the graveyard as part of observing Eid but remembering the dead should be a timely practice and should regarded as imperatival ways. It should be said that Eid-ul-Fitr often has an added significance to Muslims living in the West against what it does to those living in largely Muslim countries since it is an opportunity for renewing their pledge to Islam and to the world-wide Muslim community across the universe. At Islamic centres in Europe and in the United States, services are led by different imams (leaders of prayer) in their respective mosques. In addition to being a time of spiritual renewal, it is a time for socializing and meeting other Muslims (Findley 73) especially the less fortunate in the society.
As was witnessed this year, there are several technological advances that have come up as a result of the celebration of Eid ul Fitr.Clothe designers have improvised new ways of creatively mending clothes, and other facilities to match the festival, for example, clothes that possess arts of Islamic writing. Windows of mosques are also sculptured to present a beautiful resemblance of the occasion and well as match the teachings of Allah that portray this day as a day of celebration and thanksgiving to the creator.
Together with compassionate actions, observance of a particular diet is also an important issue in regard to practice of Muslimas a religion and adherence to the teaching of Prophet Muhammad. During Eid ul Fitr, all foods that are in their natural state are regarded fit for consumption. In addition, Muslims are supposed to be cautious when taking meals to ensure that food is not contaminated. For instance, they should be keento sense the presence of pork or any flavors made from pork in the food. In addition, alcohol consumption is entirely prohibited in Muslim and more specifically during the festive of Eid. To add on the prohibition of consumption, Islam restricts its members from accessing drinking spots. This rule proves so restrictive since most of the celebrations and festivities in the world today are marked by alcohol consumption. Though Eid is marked by wearing new clothes, Muslim requires women to war hijabs that cover heads and chest while men are seen in turbans. It is however not easy for men to observe the covering of the head as compared to women who make it part of their norms.
During Eid, special prayers are made concerning what people need and the circumstances at hand. These prayers aim at asking Allah to reward faithful after observing the holy month of Ramadan. According to beliefs, prayer requests that are made during Eid ul Fitr are normally answered without fail. Some of the major prayer requests include peace in the entire nation and specifically among warring Islamic nations that need to foster peace. The spirit of oneness is also enhanced during this period.
Islam has a strong belief in the impact of the five pillars and the two major festivities, which bring about success and peace in the world. Though technological advancements have been witnessed, their impact on the practice of Islam and observance of Eid Ul Fitr is so minimal and only tends to promote and enhance the beauty of the festivity. If an individual misses the Eid prayer, a penalty of two rak’at is placed on him. This rule signifies the importance of Eid not only as a festival to celebrate but also a chance to exercise your faith to Allah. Also, if Eid coincides with any other Islamic religious activity, such as the Friday prayers, then Eid triumphs since it is practiced annually unlike prayers, which are done weekly and even daily for some cases.
Findley, Henry, et al. “Accommodating Islam in the Workplace.” Journal of Business & Behavioral Sciences 26.2 (2014): 73-84. Business Source Complete. Web.
Khan, Daisy. “Empire State Building Lit For Eid-Ul-Fitr.” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 27.9 (2008): 64-65. Academic Search Premier. Web.
Obama, Barack. “Statement on the Observance of Eid Al-Fitr.” Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents (2014): 1. Academic Search Premier. Web.
PR, Newswire. “CAIR: U.S. Muslims to Mark End of Ramadan with Prayers.” PR Newswire US 28 Aug. 2011: Regional Business News. Web.