Eid-ul-Fitr – Festival for Muslims

This year on December 14 or 15, the new moon of Shawal (10th lunar month of Islamic calendar) will mark the end of ‘Ramadan’ and a day of festival called Eid-ul-Fitr will start. Eid means recurring happiness or festivity. Al Fitr means breaking of fast. Thus Eid Al Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawal, to mark the end of a month long fast during the month of Ramadan. Around the world, Eid is celebrated with enthusiasm and fervor and Muslims from all walks of life can be seen adorned in beautiful new clothes, visiting the mosques to attend Eid prayers. Greetings of “Eid-Mubarak” or “Happy Eid” are exchanged. A very important aspect of Eid is the charity, which all the Muslims are expected to extend to the needy. Eid Al Fitr is a day of joy and thanksgiving. On this day, Muslims show their joy for the health, strength and opportunities of life, which Allah has given them to fulfill their obligations of fasting and other good deeds during the month of Ramadan. It is also a day of forgiveness and good feelings towards other fellow human beings. The second important Eid celebration is called “Eid Al-Adhha” which comes after Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) during the 12th Islamic month called Dhulhajj. Prayers are offered in mosques and Special open fields that are designated for Eid prayers.

How Eid used to be celebrated during the period of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Following are some of the Hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) describing Eid celebrations during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslims around the world follow the same traditions every year.

Grooming for the two Eid

 It is preferred to take shower (ghusl), perfume one’s self and wear one’s best attire on the occasions of the two Eids. Ja’far ibn-Muhammad relates from his father on the authority of his grandfather who reported that the Prophet would wear a Yemeni cloak on every Eid. This is related by ash-Shaf’i and al-Baghawi. Al-Hassan as-Sibt says: “The Messenger of Allah ordered us to wear the best clothes we could find for the two Eids and to apply the best perfume we could find and to sacrifice the best animal we could find (on Eid ul Adhha).”

Eating on the Eid day

 One is to eat before going to the salah (prayer) for Eidul Fitr, but not do so on the occasion of the Eid ul adhha (commemorating Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice). For Eidul fitr, it is a sunnah to eat an odd number of dates before going to pray salatul Eid (eid prayer) while for Eidul adha the eating should be delayed until one returns from the Eid prayers and then he may eat of his sacrifice if he has sacrificed an animal.

Anas reports: “The Prophet would not go out on the Eid ul Fitr until he had eaten an odd number of dates.” This is related by Ahmad and al-Bukhari.

Buraidah reports: “The Prophet would not go out on the day of breaking the fast (Eidul fitr) until he had eaten and on the day of sacrifice (Eidul adhha) he would not eat until he had returned [from salah].” This is related by at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah

In al-Muwatta’ it is recorded from Saeed ibn al-Musayyab that the people were ordered to eat before they go out on the day of breaking the fast.

Ibn-Qudamah said: “I do not know of any difference of opinion over the fact that one should hasten in eating [eat early] on the day of breaking of the fast.”

Going out to the musalla (place of prayer)

 Salatul Eid can be performed in the mosque but it is preferred to perform in a place outside the city as long as there is no excuse or reason to do otherwise (e.g., rain and so on) as the Prophet would pray the two Eids in the outskirts of Madinah and he never prayed it in his mosque, except once and because it was raining.

Abu Hurairah reports that it was raining on the day of Eid, so the Prophet led them in salatul Eid in the mosque.

Women and children going out to attend Eid prayer

 Shari’ah requires women and children to go out and attend the salatul Eidain (both Eids). This includes married, single, young, old, or menstruating women.

Umm ‘Atiyah reports: “We were ordered to go out along with the single and menstruating women to the two Eids in order to witness the good and the supplications of the Muslims. The menstruating women would be separate from the others.” This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Ibn ‘Abbas says that the Prophet would take his wives and daughters to the two Eids. This is related by Ibn-Majah and al-Baihaqi.

Ibn ‘Abbas further reports: “I went out with the Prophet on the day of breaking the fast or of the sacrifice, and he prayed and gave a khutbah (sermon), and then he went to the women and admonished them, reminded them of Allah, and ordered them to give charity.” This is related by al-Bukhari.

Taking different routes to and from musalla

 Most of the people of knowledge are of the opinion that it is preferred for a person to go to the salah (prayer) by one route and then to return home through another route, regardless of whether he be the imam or a member of the congregation.

Jabir reports: “On the days of Eid, the Prophet would take different routes.” This is related by al-Bukhari.

Abu Hurairah says: “When the Prophet went to salatul Eid, he would return through a different route.” This is related by Ahmad, Muslim, and at-Tirmidhi. However, It is permissible to return through the same route by which one goes to the musalla (prayer place).

The time of Eid prayers

 The time for salatul Eid begins from the time the sun is three or six meters above the horizon until the sun reaches its meridian.

Ahmad ibn Hassan al-Bana’ records that Jundub said: “The Prophet prayed the Eidul fitr prayer while the sun was [approximately] six meters above the horizon and the Eid ul Adhha while the sun was three meters above the horizon.”

Ash-Shaukani says: “That is the best of what has been related concerning the specific time of salatul Eidain and the hadith shows that it is preferred to hasten in praying salatul adha and to delay the salatul fitr.”

Ibn Qudamah says: “It is a sunnah to pray salatul adhha early in order to allow more time for the people to perform the sacrifice, and the salatul fitr is to be delayed in order to give people time to pay zakat al-Fitr.

Playing, amusements, singing, and eating on the days of Eid

Recreation, amusements, and singing, if they stay within the moral bounds, are permissible on the days of Eid.

Anas reports: “When the Prophet came to Madinah they had two days of sport and amusement. The Prophet said: “Allah, the Exalted, has exchanged these days for two days better than them: the day of breaking the fast (Eid ul Fitr) and the day of sacrifice (Eid ul Adhha).” This is related by an-Nasa’i and Ibn Hibban with a sahih chain.

‘Aishah says: “The Abyssinians were performing (dancing) in the mosque on the day of Eid. I looked over the Prophet’s shoulders and he lowered them a little so I could see them until I was satisfied and left.” This is related by Ahmad, al-Bukhari, and Muslim.

Ahmad, al-Bukhari, and Muslim also record that she said: “Abu Bakr entered upon us on the day of Eid and there were some girls who were recounting [in song the battle of] Bu’ath in which many of the brave of the tribes of Aus and Khazraj were killed. Abu Bakr said: ‘Slaves of Allah, you play the pipes of the Satan!’ He said it three times. The Prophet said to him: ‘O Abu Bakr, every people have a festival and this is our festival.” ‘ In al-Bukhari’s version, ‘Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah, entered the house and I had two girls who were singing about the battle of Bu’ath. The Prophet lied down on the bed and turned his face to the other direction. Abu Bakr entered and spoke harshly to me, ‘Musical instruments of the Satan in the presence of the Messenger of Allah!’ The Messenger of Allah turned his face to him and said: ‘Leave them.’ When Abu Bakr became inattentive I signaled to the girls to leave. It was the day of Eid and the Africans were performing with their shields and spears. Either I asked him or the Prophet asked if I would like to watch them [I don’t recall now]. I replied in the affirmative. At this the Prophet made me stand behind him and my cheek was against his. He was saying: ‘Carry on, O tribe of Arfadah,’ until I tired. The Prophet asked: ‘Is that enough for you?’ I replied: “yes,” so he said: ‘Leave [then].'”

Ibn Hajar writes in Fath al-Bari, “Ibn as-Siraj related from Abu az-Zinad on the authority of ‘Urwah from ‘Aishah that the Prophet said that day: ‘Let the Jews of Medinah know that our religion is spacious [and has room for relaxation] and I have been sent with an easy and straight forward religion. “‘

Ahmad and Muslim record from Nubaishah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The days of tashriq (i.e., the days in which the Eid is celebrated) are days of eating and drinking [non alcoholic drinks] and of remembering Allah, the Exalted.”

The adhan and iqamah for salatul Eidain

Ibn ‘Abbas and Jabir both report that there was no adhan on the day of the breaking of the fast or on the day of sacrifice. This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim. Muslim records that ‘Ata said: “Jabir informed me that there is no adhan for the Eid of breaking the fast, neither when the imam arrives nor afterward. And there is no iqamah or call of any kind.”

Sa’d ibn abi-Waqqas reports: “The Prophet prayed salatul Eid without any adhan or iqamah. He would deliver two khutbahs (sermons) standing and would seperate them by sitting between them.

The takbir during salatul Eidain

The Eid prayer consists of two rak’at during which it is sunnah to pronounce the takbir seven times, after the opening takbir and before the Qur’anic recital in the first rak’ah. During the second rak’ah, one makes takbir five times after the takbir which is customarily made for standing after the prostration. One is to raise one’s hands during each pronouncement of the takbir. However, according to Hanafi school the additional Takbirat are only six, three additional takbir in the first rak’ah and three additional in the second rak’ah.

Ibn Abdul-Barr commenting on the number of takbirat, says: “It has been related through many good chains that the Prophet made seven takbirat in the first rak’ah and five in the second.

As to the pause between takbirat, it is said that the Prophet would be silent for a short period of time between the takbirat, and nothing has been related from him concerning exactly what he said during that pause; however, at-Tabarani and al-Baihai relate, with a strong chain, that Ibn Mas’ud would praise and extol Allah, the Exalted, and make prayers upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) during such intervals. The same has been recorded from Hudhaifah and Abu Musa. Pronouncing the takbirat are a sunnah even though the salah is not invalidated if one neglects them, either intentionally or out of forgetfulness.

Ibn Qudamah says: “I know of no difference of opinion on that point.” Ash-Shaukani states that the strongest opinion is that if one does not perform the takbirat out of forgetfulness, he is not to perform the prostrations of forgetfulness (Sajdah Sah’we).

Prayer before or after salatul Eid

It is not established that there is any sunnah prayer before or after the Eid prayer. The Prophet never performed any such prayer, neither did his companions upon arrival at the musalla (prayer place).

Ibn ‘Abbas reports: “The Messenger of Allah went out to the site of the Eid prayer and prayed two rak’at [i.e., the Eid prayer] without praying anything before or after it.” Al-Bukhari records that Ibn ‘Abbas disliked that one should perform a prayer before salatul Eid.

Whoever misses salatul Eid with the congregation may pray two rak’at

In Sahih al-Bukhari we find in the chapter entitled: “If one misses salatul Eid he may pray two rak’at and the same is the case for the women or people in their houses or in the countryside. This is based on the Prophet’s words: ‘O Muslims, this is our festival.”‘ Anas ibn Malik ordered his protege Ibn abi-‘Utbah, [who lived] in a remote area, to gather his family and children and to pray [the Eid prayer] like the people in the city and with takbirat similar to theirs. ‘Ikrimah said: “The people of the country should gather for the Eid and pray two rak’at as the imam does.” ‘Ata says: “If you miss the Eid [salah], pray two rak’at.”

The khutbah of salatul Eid

The khutbah (sermon) after salatul Eid is a sunnah and so is listening to it. Abu Saeed says: “On the Eid of breaking the fast and of the sacrifice, the Prophet would go to the musalla (prayer place) and begin with the salah and when he finished, he would face the people while the people were sitting in rows, and he would admonish them, advise them, and exhort them [to do good deeds]. And if he wished to send off an army or order something, he would do so and then leave.

Congratulating one another on the days of Eid

It is commendable to congratulate one another on the days of Eid.

Jabir ibn Nafir reports: “When the companions of the Prophet met each other on the day of Eid, they would say to each other, ‘taqabbal minna wa minka [May Allah] accept it from us and you.'” Ibn Hajar said that its chain is hasan.

Takbirat during the days of Eid

It is a sunnah to pronounce the takbirat on Eid days. Concerning the Eid of breaking the fast, Allah says “you should complete the prescribed period and that you should glorify Allah [i.e., say takbirat] for having guided you and that you may give thanks.” Concerning the Eid of the sacrifice, Allah says: “that you may remember Allah during the well known days;” and: “He has made them subject to you, that you may glorify Allah for His guidance to you. The majority of the scholars say that the time for the takbirat during the Eid of breaking the fast is from the time one goes to the Eid prayer until the khutbah begins.

 Salatul Jumu’ah and Salatul Eid occurring on the same day

Abu Hurairah reports that the prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “Two festivals have occurred together on this day of yours. For whosoever desires, this will suffice for his salatul Jumu’ah, but we are going to perform salatul Jumu’ah.” This is related by Abu Dawud.

It is preferred for the imam to perform the Jumu’ah so anyone who wishes to perform it may do so as well as those who were not able to attend the Eid prayer. The Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “We are going to perform the salatul Jumu’ah.”

The Beginning and Ending of I’tikaf

If a person has the intention to perform i’tikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan, he / she should begin it before the sun sets. Al-Bukhari records from Abu Saeed that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: “Whoever makes i’tikaf with me is to make i’tikaf during the last ten [nights].” The ten refers to the last ten nights which begin on the night of the 20th.

According to Abu Hanifah and ash-Shafi, whoever performs i’tikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan must leave the mosque after sunset on the last day of the month.

The Forbidden Days to Fast, the days of Eid

All scholars agree that such a fast is prohibited. It does not matter if the fast is obligatory or voluntary. ‘Umar testifies: “The Messenger of Allah has forbidden fasting on these two days. Concerning the Eid of breaking the fast, it is for you to break your fast [of Ramadan]. On the Eid of sacrifice, you should eat from what you sacrifice.” This is related by Ahmad, an-Nasa’i, atTirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah.

It is forbidden to do so because there are certain days of the year on which one is not allowed to fast. The Messenger of Allah said: “There is no [reward for] fasting for the one who perpetually fasts.” This is related by Ahrnad, al-Bukhari, and Muslim.

Paying Zakat ul-Fitr in Advance

Most scholars believe that it is permissible to pay zakat ul-fitr a day or two before Eid. Ibn ‘Umar reports that the Messenger, upon whom be peace, ordered them to pay zakat ul-fitr before the people went out to perform the Eid prayers. Nafi’ reports that ‘Umar used to pay it a day or two before the end of Ramadan. However, scholars hold different opinions when a longer time period is involved. According to Abu Hanifah, it is permissible to pay it even before Ramadan. Ash-Shaf’i holds that it is permissible to do so at the beginning of Ramadan. Malik and Ahmad (in his well-known view) maintain that it is permissible to pay it only one or two days in advance.

The founders of the four accepted Islamic legal schools agree that zakat ul-fitr is not nullified simply by not paying it on its due date. If such is the case, it becomes a debt on the one responsible for it until it is paid. They also agree that it is not permissible to delay it until the day of Eid, but Ibn Sirin and an-Nakha’i say that this can be done. Ahmad says: “I hope that there is no harm [in the delay of its payment].” Ibn Raslan says that there is a consensus that its payment cannot be delayed just because it is a type of zakah. Thus, any delay is a sin and is analogous to delaying one’s prayers without an acceptable excuse. This is proved by the following hadith: “If one pays zakat ul-fitr before the salah, it is considered an accepted zakah. If he pays it after the salah, it is considered an ordinary sadaqah.” This year Zakatul Fitr in Canada is CDN$7.00 per person.

May Allah accept everyone’s fast during the month of Ramadan and May Allah accept everone’s Zakatul Fitr on or before the Eid. May Allah bring peace and prosperity to the Muslims of Afghanistan, Palestine, Chechnya and Kashmir. May Allah bring peace and harmony among all the people of this world.

Eid Mubarak.

Mr. Syed B. Soharwardy is Founder and President of Muslims Against Terrorism (M-A-T)