The celebration of Eidul Fitr culminates a month of fasting wherein the faithful have spent their time praying and beseeching Allah for forgiveness and mercy. For many, Ramazan was not just an abstention from food and drink. Rather, it was an exercise in patience and discipline. Eid is the celebration for those who fasted and obeyed Allah’s rules and teachings. It is for those who spent the month of Ramazan in complete devotion to Allah. Eid is a time when the entire Muslim community comes together to share in each other’s joy and blessings and also to lessen the burden of those who may be suffering.

Fasting is a prescription for self-control in order to fight against the forces of evil, and struggle for the supremacy of truth and goodness, equality and freedom and other higher values. Fasting is not an end in itself, it is a means for a higher end: inculcation of the fear of Allah, so says the Holy Quran. 

Throughout the last 14 centuries, in spite of colossal social and economic transformations, this religio-social festival has retained its original ethos and characteristics: its stress on higher moral values, and purposes, social equality, collective feelings, aspirations and impulses of common participation in the joyous celebration, congregational prayers, help and assistance for the poor and hungry to enable them to participate in the festival as equal human beings. This inner core and strand of Eidul Fitr has survived to this day. 

Eid was not mere religious ritual in its origin as were the festivals and fairs of Arab pagans since Islam was not a ritual but a reform movement for an egalitarian order. During the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Eid was the symbol and sign of collectivity, fraternity and equality because the Muslims were struggling for their survival as a cohesive community of equals and free human beings who had revolted against slavery and bondage of lords, usurers, slave owners and high priests. 

These Muslims had set themselves common goals, interests, ideals and values. Their Eid was a comprehensive concept and an all-embracing practice of social, economic, religious, moral and cultural dimensions. It was not a habitual ritual but a spontaneous feeling and a natural and aesthetic expression of the Muslim community’s deeply felt emotions, aspirations, ideals and principles -- the community which called itself Muslim, submitter of its hopes, wills and ideal to the higher Divine Will, not in the fatalistic sense of a passive resignation to life’s troubles and travails but in the sense of an active and dynamic idealism and progressive movement from a tribal, atomistic and fragmented materialistic-cum-superstitious existence to a unified brotherhood of freedom, knowledge and enlightenment: it was a revolution from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge.

The most important element of this festival is the payment of Sadaqat Al Fitr to the poor and the hungry so that the poor can also participate in the common rejoicings. This was enjoined by the Holy Prophet in the second year of the Hijrah in Madinah when the Prophet, after his migration, found that great number of believing Muslim were poor slave, orphans and widows who had no economic means for sustenance, who had nothing to eat.

Making fasting an end in itself without any purpose and celebrating Eid as a revelling-rout of pomp and show will be a mockery of the higher principles for which Islam stands.

On this joyous occasion we should not forget our moorings – the original principles and higher values of Islam, our direction and purpose of building a modern and progressive democratic society, scientific culture, and an enlightened approach to face and solve our problems. We should not waste our time, energy and talents in lifeless rituals and anachronistic issues, which have no relevance for the lives of our toiling masses.

 Courtesy Khaleej Times.