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`ID AL-FITR. (EID AL FITR)The Feast of Breaking the Fast is celebrated at the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan. Also known as the Minor Festival (`Id al-Saghir) or the Lesser Bayram, `Id al-Fitr is one of two canonical annual festivals celebrated universally throughout the Muslim world (the other is `Id al-Adha). According to the lunar Muslim calendar, the festival begins on the first day of Shawwal, the month following the Ramadan month of fasting, and lasts for three days.

14 Oct 2007, New Delhi, India --- Indian Muslim children greet each other after prayer at Jama Masjid, on the occasion of Eid-al-Fitr in New Delhi. Eid Al Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and the conclusion of month-long fasting.   --- Image by © epa/Corbis

Because it marks the end of the month of fasting, `Id al-Fitr-along with the Feast of the Sacrifice, `Id alAdha-is one time when fasting (sawm) is prohibited according to Islamic law manuals (fiqh). Breaking the fast when required is as obligatory as keeping it during the days of Ramadan. Because the feast begins on the first of the month of Shawwal, it is initiated by the sunset that follows the moment when religious leaders (`ulama’) first observe the crescent moon. The following day, the first day of Shawwal, an additional communal prayer known as the prayer of the feast is celebrated following the sunrise. As in the case of the Feast of the Sacrifice, the prayer consists of two prostrations and is accompanied by a sermon (khutbah), following the practice established by the prophet Muhammad.

`Id al-Fitr is oriented on the family and the community. All save their best attire for the occasion, and children receive gifts and sweets and much attention from adults. The three days are marked, especially in Muslim countries, by the closing of businesses and by invitations and visits from extended family, neighbors, and friends. In keeping with the general tone of good will, it is common for non-Muslim friends and neighbors to extend their greetings and to be invited to join in the celebrations.

Of special significance to this feast is the obligatory form of zakat (alms) known as zakat alfitr. According to one hadith recorded in the collection by al-Bukhari, “the Prophet ordered the people to pay the zakdt al fitr before going to the morning feast prayer.” Another hadith indicates that sadaqat al fitr may be paid a day or two before the beginning of the feast. Remembering the poor and being generous with those less fortunate is characteristic of the special ethos of this three-day festival and of other religious occasions as well.

[See also `Id al-Adha; Ramadan; Sawm; Zakat.]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Denny, Frederick Mathewson. An Introduction to Islam. New York and London, 1985. Contains a useful discussion of Islamic festivals in the context of religious duties, including notes (see pp. 105124).

Fakhouri, Hani. Kafr el-Elow: An Egyptian Village in Transition. New York, 1972. Describes contemporary local observance of the feast days (see pp. 84-85).

Mittwoch, Eugen. “Id al-Fitr.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam; new ed., vol. 3, p. 1008. Leiden, 196o-.Schimmel, Annemarie. “Islamic Religious Year.” In The Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Mircea Eliade, vol. 7, pp. 454-457. New York, 1987.

RICHARD C. MARTIN

Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/id-al-fitr/
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  • writerPosted On: April 15, 2014
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