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Eid-ul-Fitr: Islamic Concept of Festivals

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam 

24 May 2020 

Eid-ul-Fitr or Eid as it is popularly known is one of the two major festivals in Islam. Though the festival of Eid has not been ordained in the Quran, it draws its name from the Quran where it occurs in Surah Al Maidah in connection with the prayer of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) to God to send down a table set with food for his ummah on their insistence. The verse is as follows: 

“Said Jesus the son of Mary: "O Allah our Lord! Send us from heaven a table set (with viands), that there may be for us - for the first and the last of us - a solemn festival (Eid) and a sign from thee; and provide for our sustenance, for thou art the best Sustainer (of our needs)."(Al Maidah: 114)

The word Eid in the verse indicates that the people used the word for celebrations or special days in which they ate good food and enjoyed. Before the Islamic Eid began, the people of Madina used to celebrate Eid in their own way when they sang and danced and indulged in vulgar and immoral acts. The Prophet pbuh forbade Muslims from such celebrations and introduced the festival of Eid in Islam the way it is celebrated today. 

Eid celebration falls at the end of the month of Ramadan and on the first day of the month of Shawwal. The Quran stresses a lot on the significance of the month of Ramadan during which the Muslims fast for the entire month, recite the Quran, give money and clothing to the poor in the form of Sadqa-e-Fitr and Zakat after going through a rigorous moral and spiritual training through the month. Thus, the day of Eid is the day of being rewarded by God for their good deeds during the entire month. The Muslims therefore celebrate the day as a mark of winning the pleasure of God. 

However, during Eidul Fitr or during Eidul Adha (the festival of sacrifice), the Quran does not permit Muslims to indulge in immoral activities like vulgar acts or unbridled merrymaking and causing inconvenience to others. In both the festivals, additional prayers called Wajib are a part while wearing the best available clothes and feeding the relatives and the poor and exchanging gifts and greetings are the main features. The Quran says: 

“Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.” (Al Nahl: 90)

 “O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you.” (Al Araf: 26)

“Say: Who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance?” (Al Araf: 32)

According to the Quran celebrations as an expression of joy with restraint is permitted. What is not permitted is immoral acts, acts impinging upon the freedom of others and unbridled merrymaking. 

Say: the things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret;” (Al Araf: 33) 

The Quran does not want Muslims to live a life of complete isolation from the beauties and goodness of the world. What is wants that Muslims should indulge in the joys of life with restraint and self-discipline. Moreover, the concept of festivals in Islam is sharing the joys and bounties bestowed by God with the neighbours and the poor and the needy. Eid is not complete without distribution of Sadaq-e-Fitr and Zakat to the needy and the poor. Similarly, on Eid ul Adha, the meat of the sacrificial animal has to be divided into three parts. One part should be kept for the family, the second part should be distributed among the relatives and acquaintances and the third part should be distributed to the poor of the neighbourhood. This is to ensure that the poor and the underprivileged section of the society too can have the luxury of good food during the festival.

“And give the relative this right and (also) the poor and the traveller and do not spend wastefully.” (Bani Israil: 26) 

Therefore, the Quran has clearly outlined the limits of celebration for Muslims. While expressing the joy is permitted, it enjoins Muslims to celebrate along with the people of the neighbourhood and care for their wellbeing. Sacrifice, fellow feeling and self-discipline constitute the central theme of Islamic celebrations. 

S. Arshad is a regular columnist for 


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