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On the first day of the tenth month of Shawwal, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Eid al-Fitr commemorates the completion of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. The closest direct translation of Eid al-Fitr from Arabic to English is “feast for breaking the fast”.

The origin of Eid can be traced back to Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) post-migration era from Mecca to Medina; it was at Medina that the Prophet announced two significant occasions for praying and remembering God’s blessings: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Fasting is referred to in Arabic as ‘sawm,’ which implies refraining. According to Islamic principles, fasting during Ramadan is more than just abstaining from drinking and eating; it represents abstention from all types of forbidden acts and strengthening of a believer’s spiritual core. The training that a believer undergoes during Ramadan reminds them that they must conduct their lives responsibly. They must lead an abstinence-based lifestyle.

Real Ramadan spirit

This is the real Ramadan spirit, which can be cultivated through deep contemplation of the lessons from the Quran. The critical takeaway after this month should be to use the learning made during the month and apply them during the remaining part of the year. The personality that develops, as a result, is alluded to in the following Hadith.

Eid begins with two units (rakahs) of Eid prayers performed at sunrise in a mosque congregation with friends and family members. After performing Namaz, believers greet their neighbours, exchange greetings, and eat and drink as they choose. This social nature of Eid emphasises the significance of social solidarity in Islam. It may be an Islamic celebration at first glance, but Muslims have celebrated it alongside their neighbours and friends of other faiths since time immemorial.

It is appropriate to say that Eid al-Fitr is a festival for all, where Muslims celebrate not only with their co-religionists but also with people of other faiths. Because of this feature of Eid, many Muslim organisations and societies throughout the world conduct local Eid parties and welcome people from all walks of life to exchange pleasantries and sweets.

The day of Eid is more than simply a day of pleasure and celebration. It is also a day when a believer pledges to abstain from negativity throughout the year in the same manner that he refrained from them during Ramadan. Just as he was concerned about his hunger and thirst, he would do his best to help those in need.

Virtue of giving

During Ramadan, believers focus on the virtue of giving, as is ordained by God Almighty. According to Islamic teachings, giving away charity purifies one’s wealth in the same manner as water cleanses one’s outward impurities. In one Hadith, the Prophet of Islam said, “We are the giving community.”

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated by spreading joy to the rest of humanity and remembering those suffering from poverty, illiteracy, sickness, and other calamities; it is obligated to give to charity a particular sum called Zakah al-Fitr before performing Eid prayers. This way, Muslims are again encouraged on Eid to continue helping the poor throughout the year, a habit they instill during Ramadan by donating Zakah and Sadaqah.

According to a Hadith, the Prophet made Zakah al-Fitr obligatory for the fasting person to keep him from idle talk and indecent conversation and provide food for the needy. Discharging this duty before the prayer is accepted as Zakah while doing it after prayer is just Sadaqah, voluntary charity.

Today we live in times of great inequity; one approach to restoring balance is giving from one’s wealth to those in need through Zakah and Sadaqah (charity). Zakah is the practice where a Muslim provide a certain percentage of their wealth over a certain amount to charity.

Utterance on Eid

Zakah al-Fitr fulfils the Ramadan fast and cleanses it of any impure deed or utterance on Eid. It is required of all Muslims, young and old, men and women. Everyone who has more than what is needed for basic sustenance for one day and night shall pay Zakah al-Fitr for himself and his dependents and distribute it to the poor and needy.

The sooner money is distributed, the easier it is for the poor to make plans so that they may also participate in the Eid celebrations without difficulties.

Eid al-Fitr reminds us that true satisfaction is found in sharing God’s blessings upon us. We should never overlook the needs of other human beings. The actual core of Eid is to share pleasure and love all around us.

Celebrated in this manner, Eid will revitalise the entire community by bringing people together in harmony, thankfulness, and sharing. Eid al-Fitr has a form, but there is also a spirit in the festivities. It may appear to be a confined celebration.

Still, in nature, it is a festival for everyone and, if appropriately observed, will invigorate the entire society, bringing people together in harmony and appreciation. Such an Eid will genuinely be translated into Eid al-Bashariyyah (Eid for Humanity), a festival of peace and well-wishing for humanity.

Raamish Siddiqui is a lawyer, author and Islamic thinker. Twitter: @raamishs