What Eid means for Muslims
Eid in Arabic means “feast, festival, holiday.”
Eid is a worldwide festival and celebration for Muslims. During the calendar year there are two Eid’s that are celebrated by Muslims. Eid ul Fitr, which means “festival to break the fast”, is at the end of the holy month of Ramadan in which Muslims fast for a whole month.
Eid ul Fitr is also known as the lesser Eid, and is determined by the confirmed sighting of the new moon. Eid is a time for reflection and starting afresh, a time to rejoice with family and friends, but also a time for remembering those who are less fortunate. It’s a time to count our blessings while also giving charity to those in need. Fasting teaches empathy and compassion for those less fortunate. In this time of year it provides Muslims belief and the opportunity to feel closer to God by carrying out various works of charity to benefit the poor and by offering prayers imposed and enacted. There are special morning Eid prayers offered in congregation to accompany the 5 daily prayers to mark the occasion. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reported that servants who get cleaned by fasting and worshipping should wish for whatever they want from Allah in Eid prayers.
Eid is a momentous, happy and joyous occasion shared with family and friends, Muslim and non-Muslim. A celebration of this nature, with family and friends following a month fasting, is a reminder and expression of trying to be a better person in all aspects (health, spiritual, belief and faith)
The second Eid is Eid ul Adha, which means “Festival of Sacrifice” and occurs two months after Eid’ul Fitr in which Muslims sacrifice animals for the sake of Allah. The date of Eid al-Adha also varies in accordance with the Islamic lunar calendar, falling on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah (the twelfth month).
Eid ul Adha is known as the greater Eid and commemorates the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to Allah at which point Allah showed great mercy by switching a ram with Ishmael at the last moment of sacrifice. Muslims believe that the very moment Abraham raised the knife, Allah instructed him to stop, that Abraham had passed the test, and to replace Ishmael with a sacrificial ram. In Britain, anyone wishing to sacrifice a sheep is required to make arrangements for the sheep to be slaughtered humanely.
Eid ul Adha also marks the end of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, and is an integral part of the Muslim faith. According to the Koran, all Muslims who can afford to should make the journey to Saudi Arabia at least once in their lifetime. Every year, at least two million Muslims will make the pilgrimage and stand before the Kaaba, a shrine built by Ibrahim, and pray to Allah. The prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him, said that a person who performs Hajj properly “will return as a newly born baby and hence free of all sins”.
Islam teaches Muslims how to celebrate Eid. The day begins with morning prayers, followed by visits to family and friends and the exchange of food and gifts. Muslims are obliged to share food and money with the poor so that they can take part in the celebrations. On these days, Muslims bathe and wear their best clothes. Even though fasting is not permitted on Eid days and food plays a big part in Eid, the major part of the celebration is not eating or drinking; rather, it is a prayer that brings Muslims together to remember Allah’s bounties and celebrate in his glory and greatness. Eid is a chance to multiply good deeds by bringing happiness and pleasure to the hearts of other Muslims, helping and supporting the poor and needy and by getting involved in pastimes that emphasize the strong and caring Islamic character.
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