Imam Zijad’s Corner: Significance of Eid Celebration in Muslims’ Tradition

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Imam Zijad’s Corner: SIGNIFICANCE OF EID CELEBRATION IN MUSLIMS’ TRADITION

Celebrations and festivities are occasions of joy and happiness. They have distinctive marks in all traditions, cultures, and societies. They are impatiently awaited and heartedly welcomed by everyone, regardless of age or social statues.

Muslims have two annual Eids: Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha. Anad (r.a) reported that upon arriving in Madinah, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) found its people celebrating two days (according to some scholars, the two days were the days of Nayruz and the days of Mihrajan) whose significance was held over from the Jahiliyyah. The Messenger (S) said: ‘When I came upon you, you had two days that you continued to celebrate from the Jahiliyyah; indeed Allah has substituted them for you with what is better; the day of Sacrifice and the day of Fitr.’ (Ahmad and Dawud)

Ramadan is concluded with the Grand celebration called Eid ul Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking). These days of Eid are not the days of disorder, forgetfulness and the moments of limitless feasts, but are the moments of higher spiritual preparation for the life struggle against any kind of indecency and evil. These are the days when Muslims gather together for the purpose of spiritual purification, strengthening the bonds among the members of the community and elevating the ideological awareness among them.

Linguistically Eid is a day of gathering. According to some scholars, it is derived from the werb ‘Ada (meaning returned), because people return to it periodically. Ibn Arabi says: ‘Eid is called Eid because it returns every year with renewed happiness.’ (Lisanul Arab) Other scholars say that it is derived from the word ‘Adah (custom or practice) because people are accustomed to celebrating it. Its plural is ‘Ayad.

Ibn ‘Abidayn says: ‘The Eid days are thus renewed because Allah renews His bounties in them; and He distributes His blessings to His worshippers. Thus on Eidul Fitr days, He permits them to eat after having been restrained from food; and He requires paying Sadaqatil Fitr (the charity of breaking the fast) to the needy. And on Eidul Adha, He permits the completion of  Hajj (pilgrimage) with the final Tawwaf (circulating around the Ka’bah); and He requires offering sacrifices and distributing their meet, etc. Also, it is customary for people to be joyful, happy, and to rejoicing during the Eid days.’ (Hashiyat Ibn ‘Abidayn)

Evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) clearly demonstrates that the celebrations are distinctive features for every nation. Almighty Allah said: “To every people We have appointed rites that they must observe.”          (Al Hajj 34, 67)

Shaykh Ahmad Al Banna said: ‘(they are better because) the day of sacrifice and that of Fitr are legislated by Allah, and are His choice for His creatures. They follow the completion of the greatest pillars in Islam, Hajj and Sawm. On these days Allah forgives those who performed Hajj and who fasted, and He sheds mercy on all of His obedient creatures. On the other hand, the days of Nayruz and Mihrajan were devised by the people of those times, because of good weather or other passing qualities.’ (Al Fathur Rabbani)

Eids are purely religious occasions for the Muslims. They are the holidays in Islam that were granted to the Muslims by Allah. And when He grants something, He grants it complete and perfect. He granted us Eids as well as instructions for celebrating them.

The Eids and their celebration in Islam carry a distinctive meaning and spirit. For Muslims, Eids are the occasions of an important worship and the determination to continue in obedience and submission to Allah. In moments of extreme pleasure or sadness, a Muslim never forgets his/her Lord’s greatness, might, glory, and watchfulness. Muslims’ actions are always controlled by this continued remembrance and awareness. It is a case with Eids as well.

Thus the Eids are not an occasion to take a vacation from Islamic responsibilities and commitments, nor to waste time and money in extravagance. It is not ‘fun for the sake of fun.’ Rather, it is of ultimate and definite benefit for the Muslims.

The Eids are a chance to multiply good deeds by bringing happiness and pleasure to the hearts of other Muslims, by helping and supporting the poor and needy, and by getting involved in pastimes that emphasize the strong and serious Islamic character.

Muslims should celebrate their Eids in the best way they can. Here are some etiquette’s with which Eids should be celebrated:

 It is recommended to take a bath on the morning of Eid. Imam Ibn Qudamah said: ‘It is recommended to perform Ghusl for Eid. Ibn Omar would perform Ghusl on the day of Eidul Fitr; and Ali is reported to have done so as well. This is opinion of the other great scholars.

 It is recommended to dress well for Eids for it is the Sunnah ofd the Messenger of Allah who used to dress well for Eid prayers. (Ibn Khuzaymah) Ibn Al Qayyum said: ‘The Messenger of Allah would wear his best clothes to go fo the Eid prayer. He had a cloak that he wore specifically on the two Eids and Friday.  (Zadul Ma’ad)

 It is recommended to eat before going out for Eid prayer. Since Eidul Fitr is the day on which Muslims break their Ramadan fast, it is preferable to eat before going to the Eid prayer. Anas ibn Malik narrated that: ‘Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad (S) would not leave (his house) on the day of Fitr until he ate some dates.” (Bukhari and others)

 It is recommended to use different routes for going to and coming from Eid prayers. Jabir bin Abdullah reported that the Messenger of Allah (S) used two different routes for Eid, one for going to Salatil Eid and another for coming back from Salatil Eid. (Bukhari) Ibn Qayyim said: ‘He (Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would take different routes on the day of the Eid, going one Way and returning another one. It has been said that the wisdom this is: to greet the people of both routes; so that the people of both routes will receive blessings from him (through his supplication and salam); to fulfill the needs of the needy people on both routes; to display (by the Takbir).’ (Zadul Ma’ad)

 It is recommended for ladies to participate in the Eid prayer. (Bukhari, Muslim)

 Takbir (saying Allahu Akbar) is a clearly distinctive feature of Muslims’ Eid celebrations. One of the recommended Takbirs is as follows: Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Illallahu Wallahu Akbar Allahu Akbar Wa lillahil Hamd. The Takbir for the Eid starts from the time that one leaves the house heading towards the Musalla. It is confirmed that the Messenger of Allah (S) ‘….Would leave (his house), on the day of Fitr, saying Takbir until he reached the Musalla, and until he performed the prayer. Once he had performed the prayer, he wopuld stop saying the Takbir.’ (Recorded by Ibn Abi Shayban)

 The Eid prayer should be the first thing to start the day of Eid with as it was done by the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S).

 It is very important for the Muslims to congradulate one another for the Eid by saying: Taqabbalallahu minna wa minkum – my Allah accept from us and you, Eid Mubarak or any other good expression that is allowed in Shari’ah. Jubay ibn Nufair reported that when the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) and the companions met on the Eid day, they used to say: May Allah accept our good deeds. (Ibn Hajar says that the hadith is sound) It is recommended to say salams and hug a person next to you once when the Khutbah is over so that the love of Islamic brotherhood can flourish.

This festival is observed in every community where Muslims reside. On these days of Eid, Muslims are recommended besides mentioned instructions, especially in this N. American community, to do the following:

1.To forgive each other for shortcomings in dealings with each other,

2.To visit one another,

3.To prepare the gifts for the children,

4.To exchange the gifts among themselves,

5.To visit relatives and friends,

6.To visit sick people in their homes or hospitals, etc.

The celebration of Eid ul Fitr is a kind of appreciation and is a kind of praise to Almighty Allah who gave Muslims the opportunity to improve themselves, to improve their personal behavior, to improve their character, to improve their attitude, and to improve their moral consciousness.

This celebration of Eid ul Fitr is a sign of praise to Almighty Allah who gave Muslims the opportunity to obliterate their sins and ask Him for forgiveness for their mistakes which were accumulated throughout the whole year.

This occasion of Eid ul Fitr is a sign of praise to Almighty Allah, who gave Muslims an opportunity to realize themselves and their position in this world, to re-identify themselves with the Muslim Ummah, so as to have integrity, so as to have dignity, and so as to have solidarity. It is a sign of the unity of Muslim Ummah under the banner of La Ilaha Illallahu Muhammadar Rasulullah.

The spirit of Ramadan and Eid celebration, besides the spiritual aspect, has a spirit of social work, caring for the poor and needy, improving of our relationship with each other and struggle here and everywhere for peace and justice for all. Let us ask Almighty Allah to give us guidance, peace of mind and heart.           Allahumma Amin.

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