Fatimah Sajjad

Every year, Muslims all over the world rejoice on the 1st of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar. Three days full of joy and rapture are observed marked by the adornment of newly prepared clothes, the preparation of grand feasts and widespread family reunions.  Eid-ul-Fitr is undoubtedly an event celebrated with unmatched enthusiasm. But the question arises; why do we celebrate on this particular day and in what manner should this festival be observed?

'Eid' is Arabic for 'festivity' and ‘Fitr’ means 'breaking the fast'. As the name suggests, this day is a joyous occasion as it marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast consistently and make an effort to give greater time to prayer and spend more in charity. This blessed month, in which the doors of Hell are closed and the doors of Heaven opened, gives every Muslim an excellent opportunity to repent sincerely in the hope of being forgiven by Allah, The Most Merciful. It is also a time to spiritually rediscover ourselves, become closer to our Lord and do some soul searching in order to become better individuals as a whole. Thus, the successful completion of this special month, which results in a whole army of spiritually renewed and bettered human beings, truly deserves much celebration.

Lately, however, the reasons behind the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr seem to have been forgotten. Fasting is to teach us restraint and to foster commendable qualities of patience and humility within every practicing Muslim. It also serves as a reminder of the hardships faced by those stricken by poverty and while making us realize just how grateful we should be for the abundance of food in our homes, develops a sense of empathy within us for the deprived.

These days, Eid is celebrated quite contrary to these principles. Instead of caring for the destitute, wealth is circulated in the form of 'eidi' among the privileged people of the society. Large sums of money are spent on decorated clothes and jewellery. Extravagant lunches and dinners are prepared and gifts are exchanged. Again, all this happens only amongst the affluent and the poor are left to their helplessness hence completely defeating the purpose of fasting.

Where it is certainly not wrong to celebrate ourselves, we should try to be more humble in our festivities and recall the spiritual training we received in the sacred month of Ramadan. In keeping with the spirit of Eid, we should make an effort to remember our less fortunate brothers and sisters at this time and include them in our celebrations.

Share the food in your house with a hungry person. Give some of your eidi to the poor. Donate clothes you no longer wear to someone in need of them. Becoming the reason behind someone’s smile will elevate your heart and a sincere prayer from someone who you helped is surely more precious than any amount of eidi. As in the words of Allah Rabb ul Aalameen in the Holy Quran;

 “And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction; but do good; for Allah loves those who do good.” - Surah Al-Baqarah (2:195)

May this Eid be a blissful event for everyone.