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Eid al-Fitr 2020: What happens on Eid al-Fitr:

The festival of Eid is filled with happiness, merriment, recreation, prayers to the Almighty and enormous feastings. The festival is celebrated by Muslims all over the world.

There are two Eid’s celebrated in Islam and both follow major acts of worship. The first is Eid al-Fitr which follows Ramadan and the second is Eid al-Adha which follows the Hajj. In order to understand the importance of each holiday an understanding of the act of worship that precedes, it is also necessary so we will explain you the importance of the worship and then the holiday that follows.

Narrated that Anas bin Malik (R.A.) said:

“Allah has given you better than those feasts (festivals of non-believers): the ‘Eid-ul-Adha’ and ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’” (An-Nasai: 1556)

How to Prepare for Eid al-Fitr:

  • On this day Muslims Cleanse their bodies in a ritual called “Ghusl”.
  • Wear new clothes, traditional or contemporary clothes.
  • Apply or decorate hands with Henna (aka Mahendi).
  • Cook variety of dishes especially non-vegetarian.
  • There are Eid greetings – “Eid Mubarak” meaning “Have a blessed Eid” irrespective of religions and beliefs.
  • Muslims gather for prayers (Eid Salah) in the holy places called.
  • Eid Takbir (recite)
  • Masjid (aka Mosque) or outdoor locations called “Eid Gah”.
  • Muslims visit the graveyards of their loved ones to pray for their departed souls.
  • Gifts are given (especially Money to kids) called “Eidi”.

Ramadan is an entire month during which Muslims around the world focus on purifying themselves, getting closer to Allah, and growing in their knowledge and faith. During Ramadan Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This fasting includes refraining from food, drink, sexual intercourse, bad language and bad behavior.

Muslims generally read an entire chapter of the Qur’an each day (it has 30 chapters) so they read the entire book in one month. It is often compared to being a mini boot-camp in which we arm ourselves with knowledge by reading the Qur’an and fit ourselves physically fit but modifying our diet, increasing our good deeds, and committing more and greater acts of worship.

After such an extensive training session a celebration is only logical. This is where Eid al-Fitr (the Festival/Holiday of Breaking Fast) comes in. It is a celebration which lasts 3 days and celebrates the successful completion of Ramadan and the newly renewed spiritual cleansing and connection.

This particular Eid is also associated with sweets and some call it the Sugar Festival or Sweet Festival. Sweets of various kinds are a common feature of this Eid. There are many different ways in which people celebrate the Eid but in general they all go in the morning to pray the special Eid prayer. On the way there and while waiting for the prayer session to start it is common to recite the Eid Takbir like this:

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La-illaha-il Allah
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Walilahil Hamd.

Translation in English:

Allah is Great, Allah is Great, there is no God, but Allah
Allah is Great, Allah is Great, to Him belongs all Praise.

Then after praying people generally have a feast of sorts with their families and or friends. It is a typical time to travel to family’s homes and visit. Typical foods vary by country/region. In the Middle East it is common to buy new clothes for the Eid and children often receive Eidi, which is money.

Gifts on Eid al-Fitr:

Eidi is received from family and friends but generally comes from an adult to child. Gifts between adults are rare and actual gifts from child to adult are almost non-existent. Kids use the money to buy toys and sweets. Practices vary around the world quite a bit. For example, in China it’s common for families to go visit the graves of their ancestors (a practice which seems to have developed out of the strong Chinese cultural reverence of Ancestors).

In the US, Canada, Australia, UK it is often more common to give children gifts as opposed to money (to compare with strong Christian gifting practices such as Christmas common in those areas) it is also increasingly common to make Eid goody bags with little trinkets, party favors, stickers, temporary tattoos, and candy to hand out to children after the Eid prayer and gifts between adults or from child to adult are more common. So exact practices and traditions have a great deal of variation around the world often influenced by dominant local cultural practices.

It is also common to go to amusement parks/carnivals/circuses in many places although in the West this is more common than in many other countries probably because immigrants and subsequent generations do not have very large extended families to visit so they spend more time going out as smaller familial groups and because of the often minority status of their holidays and the abundance of Christian holiday commercialization they often feel the need to make Eid’s “extra special” to keep kids interested.

The second major act of worship to occur is the Hajj. Eid al-Adha (the Festival/Holiday/Feast of Sacrifice or sometimes called the greater or big Eid) is done in remembrance of Abraham’s (Ibrahim’s) willingness to sacrifice his son out of faith in Allah and Allah’s mercy on us all. As Ismail was replaced with a sheep, lamb is the traditional thing to eat on Eid al-Adha. It’s a time when we celebrate Allah’s mercy.

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