1. What is Eid?
Eid (pronounced Eeed) literally means a “festival” or “feast” in Arabic. There are two major Eids in the Islamic calendar per year – Eid al-Fitr earlier in the year and Eid al-Adha later.
Eid al-Fitr is a three-day-long festival and is known as the “Lesser” or “Smaller Eid” when compared to Eid al-Adha, which is four-days-long and is known as the “Greater Eid.”
2. Why is Eid celebrated twice a year?
The two Eids recognize, celebrate and recall two distinct events that are significant in the history of Al-Islam.
Eid al-Fitr means “the feast of breaking the fast.” The fast, in this instance, is Ramadan, which recalls the revealing of the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and requires Muslims to fast from sunrise to sundown for 29 or 30 days.
3. How do Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr?
Eid al-Fitr features two to three days of celebrations that include special morning prayers. People greet each other with “Eid Mubarak,” meaning “Blessed Eid” and with formal embraces. Sweet dishes are prepared at home and gifts are given to children and to those in need. In addition, Muslims are encouraged to forgive and seek forgiveness. Practices vary from country to country.
In many countries with large Muslim populations, Eid al-Fitr is a national holiday. Schools, offices and businesses are closed so family, friends and neighbors can enjoy the celebrations together. In the U.S. and the U.K., Muslims may request to have the day off from school or work to travel or celebrate with family and friends.
In countries like Egypt and Pakistan, Muslims decorate their homes with lanterns, twinkling lights or flowers. Special food is prepared and friends and family are invited over to celebrate.
In places like Jordan, with its Muslim majority population, the days before Eid al-Fitr can see a rush at local malls and special “Ramadan markets” as people prepare to exchange gifts on Eid al-Fitr.
The literal meaning of Islam is peace; surrender of one’s will i.e. losing oneself for the sake of G-d and surrendering one’s own pleasure for the pleasure of G-d. The message of Islam was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) 1, 400 years ago. It was revealed through angel Gabriel (on whom be peace) and was thus preserved in the Holy Qur’an. The Holy Qur’an carries a Divine guarantee of safeguard from interpolation and it combines the best features of the earlier scriptures.
The prime message of Islam is the Unity of G-d, that the Creator of the world is One and He alone is worthy of worship and that Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) is His Messenger and Servant. The follower of this belief is thus a Muslim – a Muslim’s other beliefs are: G-d’s angels, previously revealed Books of G-d, all the prophets, from Adam to Jesus (peace be on them both), the Day of Judgement and indeed the Decree of G-d. A Muslim has five main duties to perform, namely; bearing witness to the Unity of G-d and Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) as His Messenger, observing the prescribed prayer, payment of Zakat (charity), keeping the fasts of Ramadhan and performing the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Islam believes that each person is born pure. The Holy Qur’an tells us that G-d has given human beings a choice between good and evil and to seek G-d’s pleasure through faith, prayer and charity. Islam’s main message is to worship G-d and to treat all G-d’s creation with kindness and compassion. Rights of parents in old age, orphans and the needy are clearly stated. Women’s rights were safeguarded 1,400 years ago when the rest of the world was in total darkness about emancipation. Islamic teachings encompass every imaginable situation and its rules and principles are truly universal and have stood the test of time.
In Islam virtue does not connote forsaking the bounties of nature that are lawful. On the contrary one is encouraged to lead a healthy, active life with the qualities of kindness, chastity, honesty, mercy, courage patience and politeness. In short, Islam has a perfect and complete code for the guidance of individuals and communities alike. As the entire message of Islam is derived from the Holy Qur’an and indeed the Sunnah and Hadith (the traditions and practices of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings on him) it is immutable in the face of change in time and place. It may appear rigid to the casual eye, in actual fact it is most certainly an adaptable way of life regardless of human changes.
Islam teaches that the path to spiritual development is open to all. Any individual who searches the One Creator can seek nearness to G-d through sincere and earnest worship; it is central to establishing a relationship with the Almighty. This positive message for humanity fills hearts with hope and courage.
At present there are 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide and they form the majority in more than 50 countries of the world. Today Islam is the fastest growing faith in the world – its beautiful message is reaching millions in the far corner of the earth.
Islamic tradition states that it was during Ramadan, on the “Night of Power” (Laylat al-Qadr)—commemorated on one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan, usually the 27th night—that G-d revealed to the Prophet Muhammad the Qurʾān, Islam’s holy book, “as a guidance for the people.” For Muslims Ramadan is a period of introspection, communal prayer (ṣalāt) in the mosque, and reading of the Qurʾān. G-d forgives the past sins of those who observe the holy month with fasting, prayer, and faithful intention.
Allah ﷻ says in the Qur’aan what may be interpreted as, “O’ you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may achieve Taqwaa (righteousness, God-fearing).” [Surat Al-Baqarah, verse 183]
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Whoever observes the fast during the month of Ramadan, (while) believing in Allaah and seeking His rewards, will have his past sins forgiven.” [Reported by Imaams Bukhaari, Muslim and others]
Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the main pillars of Islam. It is obligatory upon every sane, healthy Muslim whose reached puberty and is not traveling during the time of fasting. As for women, they must not fast if they are menstruating or having post-childbirth bleeding.
The Essential Elements Of The Fast
There are two essentials elements for your fast to be valid and accepted. They are:
- You must have the intention to fast before fajr (dawn) every night during the month of Ramadan. The intention does not need to be spoken, because in reality it is an act of the heart, which does not involve the tongue. It will be fulfilled by one’s intention from the heart to fast out of obedience to Allah ﷻ seeking His pleasure.
- Abstaining from acts that nullify the Fast
- The second essential element for your fast to be accepted is that you abstain from the acts that nullify the fast from dawn to sunset.
If you maintain these two essential elements during fasting, then your fast will be valid and accepted.