By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
06 July 2016
Eid-ul-Fitr is the day of thanksgiving to Allah Almighty, for granting His servants pious opportunity to fast and to worship Him in Ramadan. It is celebrated to fulfil the prime objectives of Islamic festivity. It symbolizes unity and brotherhood and inspires all to work towards building a peaceful and prosperous society. Eid is the occasion to bury enmity and hatred, reunite with family and friends and reaffirm the social bonds. It is the festival when Muslims invite people from other communities to the feasts arranged at homes. Eid-ul-Fitr is a joyous occasion but its underlying purpose is to invoke Allah Almighty and give charity to the needy according to Islamic belief.
Eid is an Arabic word, which means a festivity, a celebration, a recurring happiness, a feast and ‘a day which returns often’. Fitr means conclusion of fast. Eid-ul-Fitr was named so because it returns every year at the end of the month of Ramadan with renewed happiness. The words Eid-ul-Fitr symbolize celebrating the conclusion of the month of fasting. The festival brings opportunities to give comfort to the worries of life, consolidate social relations and spread love and compassion among Muslims. And, hence, it is a day where Muslims around the world try to show unity through a day of festivity.
Clad in new dresses, Muslims flock to mosques and Eidgahs (the places of Eid prayer) to observe the congregational prayer of Eid. Soon after the Namaz is over in the mosques, Imams and devotees usually pray for communal harmony and welfare of the country on the occasion. They also pray for the victims of violence from all parts of the world. Subsequently, the devout Muslims embrace each other saying Eid Mubarak. They keep on celebrating the festival all day long with great gusto and exchange greetings and gifts visiting each other’s homes and share delicious foods.
Since visiting relatives and family members is one of the ways leading to paradise, grace and mercy of God, Muslims go their kith and kin to earn this virtue. As Narrated by Anas bin Maalik (Allah is pleased with him), “I heard Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying, “Whoever desires an expansion in his sustenance and age should keep good relations with his kith and kin.” (Bukhari: Hadith number 2067)
The celebration is not just about sharing joys but also for distributing charity. The rich Muslims can’t help extending food, clothes, money and greetings to the needy and poor people, because the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked them not to leave the poor, needy, orphans, elderly and sick. The generosity shown by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) on this day motivates them to help others. People may help the way they want to. Giving money to the poor before Eid ul Fitr is considered more virtuous as it helps them make arrangements for the festival. This kind of charity is called Sadqa-e-Fitr and it was initiated during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
The amount of Sadqa-e-Fitr should be paid as per the prescribed amount mentioned in the Hadith. Abu Saeed (Allah is pleased with him) said: “we used to give for Sadqa-e-Fitr on behalf of every child, aged person, free man or slave during the lifetime of the messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) one Sa'a of food, or one Sa'a of dried yogurt, or one Sa'a of barley, or one Sa'a of dates, or one Sa'a of raisins” (Bukhari and Muslim). According to Islamic scholars, one saa' is equal to 2.172 kilograms, or it is four pounds, six and a half ounces (4lb 6.5 oz).
Sadqa-e-Fitr should be paid before the prayer of Eid. Ibn Umar (Allah is pleased with him) reported that the prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered them to pay Sadqa-e-Fitr before they go out to perform the Eid prayer. If Sadqa-e-Fitr is paid after the Eid prayer, it will only be considered as regular charity. The prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "if one pays Sadqa-e-Fitr before the prayer, it is considered an accepted Sadqa, but if he/she pays it after the prayer; it is considered an ordinary charity." (Abu Dawud)
Such acts of charity open doors to heaven and shorten the distance between Allah and his servants. Allah the Almighty says “Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives Zakah; [those who] fulfil their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous”. (2:177)
On the day of the Eid ul-Fitr, Muslims should not neglect the armed police too, who stand guard outside the mosque to avert any eventuality and maintain adequate peaceful arrangements. They should rather feel impelled to greet these police whereby they offer prayer amid safe ambience.
The joy of Eid comes after the ritual prayers. Those who fast or perform pilgrimage and give charity to the poor and needy have the right to rejoice on the occasion. Therefore, Eid is considered one of the ritual practices in Islam.
The Quran forbids the kind of joy which instigates people to commit arrogance, selfishness and grudge against the creation of God breaking the link with them, as was forbidden in the case of Qarun”. Indeed, Qarun was from the people of Moses, but he tyrannized them. And we gave him of treasures whose keys would burden a band of strong men; thereupon his people said to him, "Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant (Surah Quasars 76). This is a kind of rejoice that Allah the Almighty does not love because such joy brings forth enmity.
To sum up, Eid is all about enjoying life to its fullest as well as spreading intimate love, building social brotherhood unity and doing charity among the needy and poor. It is an occasion filled with moments of sheer joy embedded in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Muslims should also take this opportunity to invite their non-Muslim neighbours, co-workers, classmates and business acquaintances to expose them to Islam and Muslim culture. Most importantly, the charity is the core essence of this festival as expounded by the holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that “I and the provider of the orphan will be together”. And what can be the greater reward for anyone of us than to be close to the beloved prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). All we need to do is show compassion, sincerity and a feeling of brotherhood towards the orphans and the less fortunate.
A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Ghulam Ghaus is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background. He completed the classical Islamic sciences from a Delhi-based Sufi Islamic seminary Jamia Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Zakir Nagar, New Delhi with specialization in Tafseer, Hadith and Arabic. He completed his Alimiat and Fazilat respectively from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow and Jamia Manzar- e- Islam, Bareilly, U.P. He did his graduation in Arabic (Hons) and post-graduation (Arabic) from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
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