By Ghulam Ghaus, New Age Islam
August 7, 2013
Eid-ul-Fitr comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan 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 God and give charity to the needy according to Islamic belief.
Eid means festivity while Fitr means conclusion of fast. 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 (r.a), “I heard Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) 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 be upon him) asked them not to leave the poor, needy, orphans, elderly and sick. The generosity shown by the Prophet Muhammad (peace 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 be upon him).
The amount of Sadqa-e-Fitr should be paid as per the prescribed amount mentioned in the Hadith. Abu Saeed 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 (p.b.u.h.) 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. Ibne Umar reported that the prophet (p.b.u.h.) 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 (pbuh) 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] fulfill 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”. [Baqura: 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, unity and charity. It is an occasion filled with moments of sheer joy embedded in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). 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. All we need to do is show compassion, sincerity and a feeling of brotherhood towards the orphans and the less fortunate.