Thursday, October 2, 2008

Eid ul-Fitr

عيد الفطر
Eid ul-Fitr
(Festival of the Breaking of the Fast)
Also called Eid, "Ramadan Eid", "Smaller Eid"; Eid-e-Sayed Feter (Afghanistan); Idul Fitri, Hari Lebaran (Indonesia); Hari Raya Puasa, Hari Lebaran, Aidilfitri (Malaysia); Shemai Eid (Bangladesh); Şeker/Ramazan Bayramı (Turkic); Korite (Senegal)
Observed by Muslims around the world, as well as non-Muslims in Muslim majority areas
Type Islamic
Significance End of Ramadan
Date 1 Shawwal (celebrations continue until the 3rd)
2007 date 12 October-13 October
2008 date 30 September-1 October
2009 date 21 September
Celebrations festive family meals, gift giving
Observances Congregational prayer, giving charity, wearing new clothes, eating sweet foods
Related to Ramadan, Eid ul-Adha

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Eid ul-Fitr or Id-ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر ‘Īdu l-Fiṭr), often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity", while Fiṭr means "to break the fast" (and can also mean "nature", from the word "fitrah"); and so the holiday symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. It is celebrated starting on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal.

Eid ul-Fitr is a three day celebration and is sometimes also known as the "Smaller Eid" (Arabic: العيد الصغير al-‘īdu ṣ-ṣaghīr) as compared to the Eid ul-Adha that lasts four days and is called the "Greater Eid" (Arabic: العيد الكبير al-‘īdu l-kabīr).

Muslims are commanded by the Qur'an to complete their fast on the last day of Ramadan and then recite the Takbir all throughout the period of Eid[Qur'an 2:185 (Translated by Shakir)].

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[edit] General rituals

Common greetings during this holiday are the Arabic greeting ‘Īd mubārak ("Blessed Eid") or ‘Īd sa‘īd ("Happy Eid"). In addition, many countries have their own greetings based on local language and traditions.

Typically, Muslims wake up early in the morning and have a small breakfast (as a sign of not being on a fast on that day) of preferably the date fruit, before attending a special Eid prayer (salah) that is performed in congregation at mosques or open areas like fields, squares etc. Muslims are encouraged to dress in their best clothes (new if possible) to attend the Eid prayer. No adhan or iqama is to be pronounced for this Eid prayer, and it consists of only two raka'ahs. The Eid prayer is followed by the khutbah (sermon) and then a supplication (dua') asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for all living beings across the world. The khutbah also instructs Muslims as to the performance of rituals of Eid, such as the zakat.[1] It is then customary to embrace the persons sitting on either side of oneself, whilst greeting them. After the prayers, people also visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances[2] and some people also pay visits to the graveyards (ziyarat al-qubur).[2]

[edit] The Takbir and other Rituals

The Takbir is recited after confirmation that the moon of Shawwal is sighted on the eve of the last day of Ramadan. It continues until the start of the Eid prayer. Before the Eid prayer begins, every Muslim who is able must pay Zakat al-fitr,[3] an alms for the month of Ramadan. This equates to about 2 kg of a basic foodstuff (wheat, barley, dates, raisins, etc.), or its cash equivalent, and is typically collected at the mosque. This is distributed to needy local Muslims prior to the start of the Eid prayer. It can be given at any time during the month of Ramadan and is often given early, so the recipient can use it for Eid purchases. This is distinct from Zakat based on wealth, which must be paid to a worthy charity. The Takbir consists of:

Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر
laa ilaaha illAllaah لا إله إلا الله
Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر
wa li-illaahil-hamd ولله الحمد
God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest,
There is no deity but God
God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest
and to God goes all praise

[edit] Islamic tradition

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the fasting of Ramadan. This has to do with the communal aspects of the fast, which expresses many of the basic values of the Muslim community. Fasting is believed by some scholars to extol fundamental distinctions, lauding the power of the spiritual realm, while acknowledging the subordination of the physical realm.[2]

The Islamic tradition also associates events with the occasion. For example, on Eid al-Fitr, the angel Gabriel descended with white clothes for each of prophet Muhammad's grandsons.[4]

[edit] Practices by country

[edit] United Kingdom

Eid ul-Fitr 2005 at Dublin Mosque, Ireland.
Eid ul-Fitr 2005 at Dublin Mosque, Ireland.

There is a Khutbah (speech) in which the Imam gives advice to the Muslim community and usually Muslims are encouraged to end any past animosities they may have. He then goes on to the khutbah and then the prayer itself. When the local imam declares Eid ul-Fitr everyone greets and hugs each other.

As Eid ul-Fitr is not a recognised public holiday in the United Kingdom, Muslims are obliged to attend the morning prayer. In a large ethnically Muslim area, normally schools and local businesses give exemptions to the Muslim community to take three days off. In the rest of the UK it is not recognised as it is not on a fixed date as it is decided by the sighting of the moon on the night before.

Many of the Bangladeshi community celebrate Eid in a very ordered fashion. First the men wear Sharwani or Punjabi, and the females usually wear the common shalwar kameez. Men then head to the mosque for the Eid prayers, after which people greet each other and visit relatives across the city. People cook traditional food for their relatives. Dishes such as Samosas, Rice and Handesh are particulary popular. Finally, younger people, after finishing visiting relatives will spend the remaining time socialising with friends and spending time away from their elders.[5] A popular habit of the Bangladeshi youth during Eid is 'cruising', 'Cruising' commonly means travelling across London in flashy cars. They are driven by the oldest teenagers of the group, and play out loud Rap or RnB music. Sometimes their occupants will also wave Bangladeshi flags from the car windows.[5] Sociologists suggest these British Bangladeshi boys and girls have reinterpreted the older, more traditional practice of their faith and culture.[5]

This tradition is also celebrated by Pakistanis in the Midlands, in previous years, there has been trouble in the Manchester, in the Rusholme district with youths driving high-performance cars "recklessly".[6]

[edit] North America

North American Muslims typically celebrate the day in a quiet way. Because the day depends on the sighting of the moon, often families are not aware that the next day will be Eid until the night before. Most check with members of the community to see if the moon has been sighted by anyone. Different methods for determining the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal are used in each particular community. Because the day is determined by the natural phenomenon of sighting the crescent moon, North Americans on the eastern coast of the continent may celebrate Eid on a different day than those on the western coast.

The end of Ramadan is announced via e-mail, postings on websites, or chain phone calls to all members of a Muslim community. Working persons usually attempt to make arrangements for a lighter work day on the days that may possibly be the Eid day, but many North American Muslims are often noted to not be able to take the entire day off.

North American Muslims usually wake early, have a small breakfast and attend mosques for the Eid prayers.

Since many North American Muslims are immigrants, traditions described below may be celebrated by immigrants of these countries in their respective homes in North America.

New York City's iconic Empire State Building was lit in green in honor of Eid-al-Fitr from October 12-14, 2007. [1]

[edit] Russia

Among the Muslim Turkic population of Russia this day is referred as Uraza Bayram, and widely celebrated in Republics of Russia.

[edit] Turkey

Traditional Bayram, stating "Love and Be Loved", in the form of mahya lights stretched across the minarets of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul
Traditional Bayram, stating "Love and Be Loved", in the form of mahya lights stretched across the minarets of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul

In the Republic of Turkey, all national and religious celebrations are referred to as Bayram (meanings related to holiday or festival). Eid-ul-Fitr is known as, Ramazan Bayramı (ramadan festival) or Şeker Bayramı (sugar festival). It is a national religious holiday in Turkey, where schools and government offices are closed, and lasts for three days and a half. it is customary for people to greet one another with "Bayramınız Kutlu Olsun" ("May Your Bayram Be Celebrated"), "Mutlu Bayramlar" ("Happy Bayram"), or the more quaint "Bayramınız Mübarek Olsun" (May Your Bayram Be Holy", i.e. "Holy Bayram Upon You"), while enjoying a number of local customs.

The first day of Seker Bayram is the most important. Everybody wakes up early and the men go to the mosque for the special Bayram prayer. After returning from the mosque, all of the family members dress up nicely, mostly with new clothes. It is traditional to wear new outfits during Bayram (meaning festival), so parents get new clothes for their children (referred to as "Bayramlık", often purchased just for the occasion. Many children are excited about wearing their new clothes on the first day of the festival. The house is completely cleaned a few days before the festival. People will visit their friends, relatives and neighbors and pay their respects to the deceased with organized visits to cemeteries, where large, temporary bazaars of flowers, water (for watering the plants adorning a grave), and prayer books are set up for the three-day occasion.[7]

It is regarded as especially important to honor elderly citizens by kissing their right hand and placing it on one's forehead while wishing them Bayram greetings. It is also customary for young children to go around their neighborhood, door to door, and wish everyone a happy Bayram, for which they are awarded candy, chocolates, traditional sweets such as Baklava and Turkish Delight, or a small amount of money at every door, in an almost Halloween-like fashion.[8]

Helping the less fortunate, ending past animosities and making up, organizing breakfasts and dinners for loved ones and putting together neighborhood celebrations are all part of the joyous occasion, where homes and streets are decorated and lit up for the celebrations, and television and radio channels continuously broadcast a variety of special Bayram programs, which include movie specials, musical programming and celebratory addresses from celebrities and politicians alike. Municipalities all around the country organize fundraising events, in addition to public shows such as concerts or more traditional forms of entertainment such as the Karagöz and Hacivat shadow-theatre and even performances by the Mehter - the Janissary Band that was founded during the days of the Ottoman Empire.

In Turkey today the rise in conservatism has resulted in a culture war between conservatives and secularists on the event of Bayram. Secular Turks treat the days of Bayram as just a holiday or as ‘The Feast of Desserts.′ Soon, two contrasting cultures emerged. The religious still regarded the feast as high time for religious spirit, whereas the secular used it for tourism and fun. The contrast can be seen in Istanbul, where many men in the morning will be heading to the mosque in order to perform the Bayram namazı, others however don't attend, and still enjoy Bayram by taking a good rest and finding the time to visit families and friends. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, described the culture war: ″They have changed the name of Bayram. It just turned into a holiday.' Or they name it the ‘Bayram of desserts.′ No, it is not! It is only and definitely the Bayram of Ramadan. What is happening here is a form of cultural erosion. We should not allow this happen.″[9]

[edit] Iran

In the predominantly Shia culture of Iran, Eid is a highly personal event, and celebrations are often more muted. Called Eyde Fetr by most Iranians, charity is important on that day. Public Eid prayers are held in every Mosque and in public places. Visiting the elderly and gathering with families and friends is also very common. Typically, each Muslim family gives food to those in need. Payment of fitra or fetriye is obligatory for each Muslim.

Often meat or Kurbani (literally translated as sacrifice, for it is usually a young lamb or calf that is sacrificed for the occasion), which is an expensive food item in Iran, will be given by those in wealthier families to those who have less. The offering of meat is generally a part of the Eid-ul-Azha celebrations and sacrifices (Kurbani) are generally not given during the Eid-ul-fitr celebrations.

[edit] South Asia

In Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, the night before Eid is called Chand Raat, or night of the moon. People often visit bazaars and shopping malls, with their families and children, for last minute Eid shopping. Women, especially young girls, often paint each others' hands with traditional "henna" and wear colourful bangles.

During Eid, the traditional greeting is Eid Mubarak, and frequently also includes a formal embrace. Gifts are frequently given -- new clothes are traditional -- and it is also common for children to be given small sums of money (Eidi) by their elders.

After the Eid prayers, it is not uncommon for families to visit graveyards and pray for the salvation of departed family members.

Special celebratory dishes in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Fiji include sivayyan, a dish of fine, toasted sweet vermicelli noodles with milk & dried fruit.[10] In Bangladesh, the dish is called shemai.

Some people also avail themselves of this opportunity to distribute Zakat, the Islamic obligatory alms tax on one's wealth, to the needy.

[edit] Southeast Asia

Main article: Hari Raya Aidilfitri
Eid Ul-Fitr meal, Malaysia
Eid Ul-Fitr meal, Malaysia

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Eid is also commonly known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Raya Idul Fitri or Hari Raya Puasa. Hari Raya literally means 'Day of Celebration' i.e. 'The Day'. Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore celebrate Eid like other Muslims throughout the world. It is the biggest holiday in Indonesia and Malaysia and is the most awaited one. Shopping malls and bazaars are filled with people days ahead of Hari Raya, causing a distinctive festive atmosphere throughout the country. Many banks, government and private offices are closed for this holiday, which usually lasts a week.

The night before Eid is with the takbir which is held in the mosques or musallas. In many parts of Indonesia as well as Malaysia, especially in rural areas, pelita or panjut (oil lamps) are lit up in house compounds. Eid also witnesses a huge migratory pattern of Muslims, from big metropolitan cities to rural areas. This is known as balik kampung or pulang kampung in Indonesian — literally going back to home town to celebrate Eid with one's parents. Special dishes like ketupat, dodol, lemang (a type of glutinous rice cake cooked in bamboo) and other Indo-Malay delicacies are served during this day.

It is common to greet people with "Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri" or "Salam Aidilfitri" which means "Happy Eid". Muslims also greet one another with "maaf lahir dan batin" in Indonesian and "maaf zahir dan batin" in Malaysian, which means "Forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)", because Eid ul-Fitr is not only for celebrations but also the time for Muslims to cleanse their sins and strengthen their ties with relatives and friends.

It is customary for Indonesians and Malays to wear traditional cultural outfits on the Eid. The outfit for men is called baju melayu or baju koko in Indonesia which is worn together with kain samping (made out of songket) and songkok (a dark coloured headgear); in Indonesia the men will usually wear pants with similar color to the shirt or (normal black pants) and a (black head cover called) [Peci]. The women in Indonesia and Malaysia wear what is known as baju kurung and baju kebaya. It is also common to see non-Malay Muslims wear costumes of their culture.

Once the prayer is completed, it is also common for Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia to visit the graves of loved ones. During this visit, they clean the grave, recite Ya-Seen, a chapter (surah) from the Qur'an and also perform the tahlil ceremony. All these are done to ask for God to forgive the dead and also those who are living.

The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives or serving visitors. Eid ul-Fitr is a very joyous day for children for on this day adults are especially generous. Children will be given token sums of money, also known as "duit raya," from their parents or elders.[11][12]

In Indonesia there is a special ritual called halal bi-halal. During this, Indonesians visit their elders, in the family, the neighborhood, or their work, and show respect to them. They will also seek reconciliation (if needed), and preserve or restore harmonious relations.[13]

[edit] Philippines

Philippines, with a majority Christian population, has recognized Eid ul-Fitr as a regular holiday by virtue of Republic Act No. 9177 and signed on November 13, 2002. The law was enacted in deference to the Filipino Muslim community and to promote peace among major religions in the Philippines. The first public holiday was set on December 6, 2002. Many non-Muslim Filipinos are still unfamiliar to the new holiday, and many calendars in the Philippines don't have this holiday listed.

[edit] China

See also: Islam in China

In China, out of 56 officially recognized ethnic groups, Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated by 10 ethnic groups that practice Islam which amount to 18 million of the total population according to official statistics. It is also a public holiday in China in certain regions, including two province prefecture level regions, Ningxia and Xinjiang. All residents in these areas are entitled of either a one-day or three-day holiday. Whereas outside the Muslim regions, only Muslims have a one-day holiday. In Xinjiang particularly, Eid ul-Fitr is even celebrated by Han Chinese population during which holiday supply such as mutton and beef is distributed to households as part of welfare scheme by government agencies, public and private institutions or businesses.

In the Yunnan province, Muslims are spread throughout the region. On Eid ul-Fitr, however, they travel to Sayyid 'Ajjal's grave, after their communal prayers. First there are readings from the Qur'an, then the tomb is cleaned (eminiscent of the historic annual Chinese Qingming festival in which people go their ancestors' graves, sweep and clean the area and then make food offerings). Finally the accomplishments of the Sayyid 'Ajall are told. In conclusion, a special service is held to honor the hundreds of thousands of Muslims killed during the Qing dynasty, and the hundreds killed during the Cultural Revolution.[14]

[edit] Africa


[edit] South Africa

In Cape Town, hundreds of people gather at Green Point for the sighing of the moon on the last day of Ramadan each year. The gathering brings together people from all walks of life, and everyone comes with something to share with others at the time of breaking the fast. The Magrib prayer is then conducted and the sighting of the moon is announced thereafter.

The Day of Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated by first attending the Mosque for Eid prayer. This is followed by visiting neighbours and family. Children receive presents and money from elder members of the family, relatives and neighbours. Most people wear new clothes with bright colours, while biscuits, cakes, samoosas, pies and tarts are presented to visitors as treats. Lunch is usually served in large family groups.

[edit] In the Gregorian calendar

See also: Islamic calendar

Although Eid ul-Fitr is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year, since the Islamic calendar is a lunar one and the Gregorian calendar is a solar one. This difference in calendars means Eid ul-Fitr moves in the Gregorian calendar approximately 11 days earlier every year. Eid may also vary from country to country depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not. The future dates for the US are estimated at:

Eid ul-Fitr begins the night before each of the above dates, at sunset..


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