Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the period of fasting, which lasts throughout the month of Ramadan. The day of Eid falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal, which is the tenth month of the Islamic calendar and follows the month of Ramadan. As narrated in the books of Hadith, when the Prophet of Islam (May peace be upon him) sighted the crescent moon of Shawwal, he said, “O Lord! Make this month, a month of peace for us.”
This prayer of the Prophet of Islam reiterates the importance that Islam accords to peace. It conveys how peace is that singular virtue, without which no progress is possible in life. This principle is applicable both at an individual level and at the level of society. This supplication of the Prophet of Islam is not limited to maintaining peace in the month of Shawwal; it is to herald the beginning of a culture of peace, which should continue throughout the year.
The purpose of fasting is not to merely stay hungry and thirsty from dawn to dusk. Its main objective is the spiritual upliftment of the individual who observes the fast. The act of staying away from food and water is a symbolic one.
The blessed month of Ramadan aims to detach a believer from worldly activities to shift his focus to the world of blessings that surround him and to deepen his spirituality through study and contemplation of the Quran. This detachment serves as an opportunity for a seeker to devote himself to develop a greater understanding of the creation plan of God and to strive to discover the meaning and purpose of creation.
Fasting is a form of training. Through the month of fasting, a believer undertakes deep reflection and assesses the pattern of his life. Having focused patiently on what he should and should not engage in, he reaches the end of the monthlong period of fasting to become an intellectually evolved version of himself.
As he steps back into the world, he can use the learning he drew during this period to face the challenges of life with positivity and renewed determination. The day of Eid al-Fitr is to arouse gratitude and hope of continual development in such a person and is therefore symbolic of these glad tidings, which await a believer in Hereafter.
The exchanging of gifts is also a common practice on Eid al-Fitr. Though such a notion is not a religious part of Eid al-Fitr, it represents a spirit of mutual well-being and bears a spiritual meaning. The essence of establishing interactive exchanges in society is to allow sharing of spiritual wisdom gained during Ramadan. Such sharing of ideas is highly desirable to foster fraternity and harmony in society.
This time second year in a row, we would be celebrating Eid al-Fitr amid the pandemic. We witnessed the havoc caused by the pandemic the world over, and our hearts reach out in prayer for all those impacted by it. As responsible members of the society, it is our solemn duty, to ensure that our actions do not put others in harm’s way.
We must follow the advisory issued by the Government at all times and avoid gatherings of friends and family at home or outside to ensure the protection of our loved ones, our society, and ourselves. However, the observance of these rules must not dampen the spirit of Eid al-Fitr in any way. The day of Eid is to bring joy, and this small contribution from our side shall go a long way to ensure the health and safety of all those around us.
God Almighty has bestowed countless blessings upon us, and we must reflect and acknowledge these blessings and express our gratitude in all moments. The day of Eid is also a reminder of our social responsibility and for reaching out to support whomever we can.
The feeling that emanates from an act of compassion, be it by sharing meals with those in need, things, clothes, or simply a helping hand, is far superior to the feeling of spending the same resources on oneself. Observing Eid al-Fitr merely as a day of eating, drinking, and making merry would amount to diminishing its importance and abandoning its true spirit.
We should adhere to the restrictions and view this as doing our bit to limit the pandemic from spreading. Let us also join our hands and pray for the well-being of mankind, and the spirit of sharing, of gratitude, and harmony to permeate across societies. Let us pray to make a new beginning on this Eid. Let it be a revival of the true spirit of Eid al-Fitr.