Ramadan – the Muslim month of Fasting

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Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. In this month Muslims are obligated to fast from dawn to dusk. Fasting, however, is not unique to Islam, and many other religious communities do fast. The Qur’an says: "O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that ye may ward off (evil)." (2:183)

Fasting is not compulsory for all Muslims, but only on the physically sound, capable individuals, as is clear from the Qur’an: "(Fast) a certain number of days; and (for) him who is sick among you, or on a journey, (the same) number of other days; and for those who can afford it there is a ransom: the feeding of a man in need –” But whoso doth good of his own accord, it is better for him: and that ye fast is better for you if ye did but know." (2:184) Thus, any person traveling or sick must either make-up missed days of fasting at a later time, or feed hungry people to compensate.

Ramadan is a blessed month because in this month the Islamic Scripture, the Qur’an, was first revealed as a guidance for mankind to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) –” the Prophet of Islam. The Qur’an says, "The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days. Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you; and (He desireth) that ye should complete the period, and that ye should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that peradventure ye may be thankful." (2:185)

Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink or have sexual relationship with their wives when they are fasting, activities that they can do when they are not fasting, i.e., after sunset and before the dawn. (2:187) The Qur’an says: "It is made lawful for you to go unto your wives on the nights of the fast. They are raiment for you and you are raiment for them. … And eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread of the dawn. Then strictly observe the fast till nightfall and touch them not, but be at your devotions in the mosques. These are the limits imposed by Allah, so approach them not. Thus Allah expoundeth His revelations to mankind that they may ward off (evil)."

To nearly one and a half billion Muslims, Ramadan is a month of "blessing” marked by fasting, prayer and charity. The month is called Ramadan because it has a scorching effect upon sins; it burns sins away. By fasting, one’s body and heart experiences a process of purification and brings one closer to his/her Creator.

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Universal thanksgiving

Fasting is the key to a genuine, earnest, total and universal thanksgiving.

Imagine that you partake of food from the garden of a gardener who lends you the ground and provides water to cultivate his land. The time of harvest comes, and as thanksgiving, you decide to leave some produce from the garden to the gardener. But the gardener is not in need of anything; so, he politely advices you to share your food with the needy folks in your neighborhood. Fasting is like thanksgiving for the bounties of Allah that He continues to shower us with. He is that Merciful Gardener of the universe. When we fast through our hunger and thirst, especially during hot summer days, we realize how difficult it would have been for us to survive without His bounties. We also realize the pain and suffering of those who are less blessed, who usually go hungry and thirsty. Through our fasting, we instill a sense of social responsibility to help ease their pains. The caring for our fellow human beings is the foundation of true thanksgiving. So, when we break our fast, we thank Allah by acknowledging our need of His bounties, and being fully appreciative of those and ascribing those bounties directly to Him.

Self-training

Fasting during Ramadan helps one in self-training and self-discipline.

Human being is comprised of nafs (soul) and ruh (spirit) beside the flesh and blood. Man’s true humanity lies in subduing the lowly carnal soul and elevating the heavenly spirit. But that is easy said than done because the carnal soul tries to dominate everything. With unbridled lust, power and wealth it starts behaving like an overlord. It is in the driving seat and sets the agenda of life. The most effective way to bridle this monster is by fasting, by denying its source of strength and pleasure.

It is related from Muhammad (S) – the Prophet of Islam – that after creating nafs, Allah the Almighty asked it: ‘Who am I and who are you?’ The carnal self replied: ‘You are Yourself, and I am myself.’ However much Allah tormented it and asked the same question, He received the same answer: ‘You are Yourself, and I am myself.’ At last, Allah subjected it to hunger, and when asking the same question, the reply came: ‘You are my All-Compassionate Lord; I am Your helpless servant’.

One of the purposes of fasting is to discipline the rebellious carnal soul. Fasting allows the person to train the nafs that only Allah, the Creator, truly owns him/her.

Fasting allows the hungry and thirsty person to be humble and meek –” to reflect upon his fragility, weakness, helplessness and destitution. It is stated that on the Day of Resurrection, one of the best worshippers of Allah will want to enter Paradise on the merit of his pure worship alone. To test him, Allah will order the heat to be too severe for him. The man will beg for water. It will then be asked if was willing to barter his years of worship for a sip of water to which he would comply. Then it will be said that his years of worship was not even equal to the gratitude he owed to Allah for the bounty of water he took for granted whenever he drank from the well or river.

Fasting inculcate in man the desire to take refuge in the Divine Court of Mercy asking forgiveness for his negligence, and thanking Allah for the compassion and generosity shown to him for all these years of his earthly life. It makes him penitent, willing to repent for his heedlessness in fulfilling obligations to fellow creatures.

The Prophet Muhammad (blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) named fasting "the poor-tax of the body" (zakat al-jasad), "a shield" (al-siyamu junnah) and also "half of restraint or patience" (al-sabru nisfu al-sawm); and he named patience or restraint "pure light" (al-sabru diya’). He was asked about the "wanderers" in the Qur’anic verse:

"Those that turn to Allah in repentance;
that serve Him, and praise Him;
that wander in devotion to His cause (al-sa’ihun);
that bow down and prostrate themselves in prayer;
that enjoin good and forbid evil;
and observe the limits set by Allah –
these do rejoice!
So proclaim the glad tidings to the believers." (9:112)

The Prophet (blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) explained: "The wanderers in the cause of Allah are those who fast" (hum al-sa’imun).

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Sowing the seeds

Fasting during Ramadan is like sowing the seeds of the Hereafter.

It is said in a Prophetic hadith that every good deed done in the month of Ramadan gets a thousand fold reward (thawab). The reward is still greater on the Fridays of Ramadan. This month also holds the Laylatul Qadr (Night of Power), when the reward of worship is equivalent to a thousand nights. Surely there is nothing more profitable as a trade for a faithful believer than engaging in virtuous deeds during the month of Ramadan.

The Prophet (blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) said: "If Allah’s servants knew what Ramadan was, they would have wished it lasted for the whole year."

The Prophet (blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) also said: "The month of Ramadan has come to you, a blessed month for the duration of which Allah has prescribed fasting for you. In it the gates of the heaven are open and the gates of hell are shut." Another version adds: "And devils are put in chains."

It is, therefore, proper that during the month of Ramadan, one should incline more towards spiritual reawakening than normal material preoccupations.

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Part 2: Merits of Ramadan

Ramadan is the month of mercy, the month of forgiveness and the month of salvation. Like a very generous guest, it brings with it all sorts of goodness and happiness; a guest that brings with it the perfumes of Paradise; a guest that gives away at least seventy cents for every cent bartered; a guest that elevates the status of the believer and leads him/her closer to Allah; a guest that invites the believer to Paradise, away from Shaytan (Devil) and Hell Fire. Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, the month of charity, the month of solidarity and mutual help, the month of endurance and all blessings.

As to its merits, here are some prophetic hadith mentioned below:

Salman Al-Farisi (may Allah be pleased with him), a Companion of Muhammad (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him), narrated: “The Messenger of Allah (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) addressed us on the last day of Sha’ban (the lunar month preceding Ramadan) and said: “People, a great blessed month has come upon you, a month containing Laylat al-Qadr which is better than a thousand months. Allah has made fasting during it an obligation, and steadfastly observing its nights in worship a voluntary act. Whoever undertakes an act of obedience to Allah during this month with a righteous deed, it is as if he has performed an obligatory act at other times; and whoever performs an obligatory act during it is as one who performed seventy obligations at other times. It is the month of patience, and the reward for patience is Paradise. It is the month of goodwill, during which provisions are multiplied. Whoever feeds a fasting person will be compensated with forgiveness of sins and salvation of his soul from Hell. He will also receive a reward equal to that of the person he feeds, without causing him any reduction (in his good deeds).”

The Companions said: “Not all of us can find something to feed a fasting person.” The Prophet (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said: “Allah gives this reward to whoever feeds a fasting person even with just a taste of milk or dates, or a drink of water. Whoever quenches the thirst of a fasting person, Allah the Almighty makes him drink from my pond such that he will never feel thirsty again until he enters Paradise. It is a month whose beginning is mercy, whose middle is forgiveness and whose end is emancipation from Hell. Therefore display four characteristics to a greater extent; with two of which you will please your Lord, and two you can not dispense with. The two with which you will please your Lord are to testify that there is no one deserving of worship except Allah, and to seek His forgiveness; whereas the two which you cannot dispense with are that you beseech Allah to place you in Paradise and that you seek refuge with Him from Hell.” [Related by Ibn Khuzaymah and Al-Bayhaqi].

Abu Umaamah (may Allah be pleased with him), a companion of Muhammad (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said: "I said: O Messenger of Allah, tell me of an action by which I may enter Paradise. He said: Take to Fasting, there is nothing like it." [Related by An-Nasaa’ee, Ibn Hibbaan, Al-Haakim]

“Allah, the Almighty and Master of Honor, says: "All actions of a person are for himself, except the case of his fasting which is exclusively for Me and I shall pay (recompense) for him for the same." The fast is a shield [against vice and the fire of Hell]. Therefore, when anyone of you is fasting s/he should abstain from loose talk and avoid verbosity and noisy exchange of words.” – Muhammad (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) [Bukhari and Muslim]

Also, Sahl ibn Sa’ (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said: “Indeed there is a gate of Paradise called ar-Rayyaan. On the day of Resurrection those who fast will enter through it; no one enters it except for them, and when they have entered, it is closed so that no one enters it, so when the last of them enters it, it is closed, and whoever enters it drinks, and whoever drinks never becomes thirsty.” [Ibn Khuzaimah].

“Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire [of Hell].” -Muhammad (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) [Ahmad]

"On the Day of Judgment, Fasting will say: O My Lord I prevented him from food and desires so accept my intercession for him.” – Muhammad (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) [Ahmad, al-Hakim and Abu Nu’aim]

“He who fasts Ramadan due to Iman (faith), hoping for reward (from Allah), will have his past sins forgiven.” – Muhammad (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) [Bukhari and Muslim]

“There are in the month of Ramadan in every day and night those to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and will be granted.” – Muhammad (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) [al-Bazzaar, Ahmad]

‘Amr ibn Murrah al-Juhaanee (may Allah be pleased with him), a Companion, said: "A man came to the Prophet May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him and said: O Messenger of Allah, what if I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah, and I observe the five daily prayers, and I pay the zakat, and I fast and stand in prayer in Ramadan, then amongst whom shall I be? He said: Amongst the true followers of the prophets and the martyrs." [Ibn Hibbaan]

“Anyone who offers meal for the breaking of the fast of another person earns the same merit as the one who was observing the fast without diminishing in any way the recompense of the fasting person.” – Muhammad (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) [Tirmizi]

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Part 3: Ramadan –” the Muslim month of Reflection

According to Imam al-Ghazali (may Allah have mercy on him), one of greatest scholars of Islam (11th century CE), there are three grades of Fasting: ordinary, special and extra-special.

Ordinary Fasting involves abstaining from food, drink and sexual satisfaction. It is the Fast of ordinary Muslims. (This is the Fasting of ordinary Muslims.)

Special Fasting involves keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet — and all other organs — free from committing sin. (This is the Fasting of Mu’mins, or pious Muslims.)

Extra-special Fasting involves Fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but Allah. –” [Ihya’ of Imam al-Ghazali, tr., From Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali by Muhtar Holland] The Fasting of the Prophets, the true devotees, the righteous and the intimates of Allah belong to this grade. It consists in utmost dedication to Allah.

The etiquette of Fasting consists of six things:

"First, one should guard all his members from impropriety, and not restrict abstinence to stomachs and genitals [alone], but keep his eyes from anything that distracts him from Allah.

Second, one should guard his tongue from idle talk, slander, and lying.

Third, one should guard his ears from anything that should not be said or heard.

Fourth, one should guard his hands and feet and all his limbs from impropriety.

Fifth, when breaking the Fast one should not eat anything unlawful or doubtful, nor eat too much of that which is completely lawful.

Sixth, one’s mind should be suspended between fear and hope, since he does not know whether his Fast is accepted or not." [Bahr al-Fava’id]

These six conditions, as explained below by Imam al-Ghazali (may Allah have mercy on him), must be accomplished for extra-special Fasting.

1. See Not What Displeases God

This involves having a chaste regard that restrains the self from viewing anything that is blameworthy or reprehensible, or that distracts the heart and diverts it from the remembrance of Allah. Muhammad, on him be peace, said: "The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be Allah’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for fear of Allah will find the sweetness of faith within his heart."

Jabir, a Companion (sahaba), relates from Anas (may Allah be pleased with both of them) that God’s Messenger Muhammad, on him be peace, said: ‘Five things break a man’s Fast: lying, backbiting, gossiping, perjury and a lustful gaze.’

2. Speak Not…

This involves guarding one’s tongue from idle chatter, lying, gossiping, obscenity, rudeness, arguing and controversy; making it observe silence and occupying it with remembrance (zikr) of Allah, and with recitation of Qur’an. This is the Fasting of the tongue.

Sufyan (may Allah have mercy on him), one of the early Followers (tabi’in), said: ‘Backbiting annuls the Fast.’

Layth quotes Mujahid (may Allah have mercy on both of them) as saying: ‘Two habits annul Fasting: backbiting and telling lies.’

The Prophet, on him be peace, said: ‘Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is Fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: "I am Fasting, I am Fasting!"’

This essence of fasting is captured appositely by one of the great poets of Islam, Mowlana Jami (may Allah have mercy on him), who wrote:

Do not arouse your temper by Fasting:
Nothing is better than patience and gentleness.

When a Fast becomes the cause of trouble,
Better to break it than to keep it.
– [Baharistan]

3. Hear Not…

This involves closing one’s ears to everything reprehensible; for everything unlawful to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why Allah equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer, in His words: ‘Listeners to falsehood, consumers of illicit gain.’ [Qur’an 5:42]

Allah also said: ‘Why do their rabbis and priests not forbid them to utter sin and consume unlawful profit?’ [Qur’an 5:63] Silence in the face of backbiting is, therefore, unlawful.

That is why the Prophet Muhammad, on him be peace, said: ‘The backbiter and his listener are co-partners in sin.

4. Do Not…

This involves keeping all other limbs and organs away from committing sin: the hands and feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food at the time for breaking Fast. It is (absolutely) meaningless to Fast — to abstain from lawful (halal) food – only to break one’s Fast on what is unlawful (haram). A man who Fasts like this may be compared to one who builds a castle but demolishes a city.

The object of Fasting is to bring moderation. The Prophet, on him be peace, said: ‘How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst!’ This has been taken to mean those who break their Fast on unlawful food. Some say it refers to those who abstain from lawful food, but break their Fast on human flesh through backbiting, which is unlawful. Others consider it an allusion to those who do not guard their organs from sin.

5. Avoid Overeating

This involves not over indulging in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is nothing more abhorrent to Allah than a belly that is stuffed full with lawful food. Of what use is the Fast … if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods? It is well known that the object of Fasting is to experience hunger and to restrain desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety.

The spirit and intent of Fasting is to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is, therefore, essential to cut down one’s food intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting. Truly, no benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

One should let a certain degree of weakness to carry over into the night so that it is easier to perform the night Prayers (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (awrad) [of Allah]. It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven. The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Exalted is He: ‘We surely revealed it on the Night of Power.’ [al-Qadr, 97:1]

Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but Allah. That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.

6. Look to God With Fear and Hope

After the Fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a pendulum between fear and hope, for one does not know if one’s Fast will be accepted. This is how one should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.

It is related of al-Hasan ibn Abil Hasan al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him), one of the early Followers (tabi’in), that he once passed by a group of people who were laughing merrily. He said: ‘Allah has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse, on which His creatures compete in His worship. Some have come in first and won, while others have lagged behind and lost. It is absolutely amazing to find anybody laughing and playing about on the day when success attends the victors, and failure the wasters. By God, if the veil were lifted off, the doer of good would surely be preoccupied with his good works and the evildoer with his evil deeds.’

Of al-Ahnaf ibn Qays (may Allah have mercy on him) it is reported that he was once told: ‘You are an aged elder; Fasting would enfeeble you.’ But he replied: ‘By this I am making ready for a long journey, Obedience to Allah is easier to endure than His punishment.’

Such are the inwardly significant meanings of Fasting. [Ihya’ of Imam al-Ghazali, tr., From Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali by Muhtar Holland]

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Part 4: Ramadan –” May We All be Visited by This Blessed Month Next Year

It is common practice among Muslims to go to masjid (mosque) to offer congregational prayers and recite the Qur’an. In addition to the five daily prayers, during the month of Ramadan they also perform a special prayer called the Taraweeh (night) — after the ‘Isha prayer. This is considered a virtuous, and thus, highly recommended, deed. The common practice is to recite one juz or Para (one-thirtieth of the entire Qur’an) during each night of the Taraweeh prayer, so that before the end of the Ramadan the entire Qur’an has been recited.

The first one-third of Ramadan is for seeking mercy, the middle one-third for forgiveness and the last one-third for salvation from the Fire of Hell. In the last part lies hidden the Night of Power or Decree (Laylatul Qadr), as is stated by Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him): “Seek it in the last ten; and if one of you is too weak or unable then let him not allow that to make him miss the final seven.” [Bukhari and Muslim] This is the Night whose merit is better than a thousand months (Qur’an 97). To encourage worship amongst believers, this Night has not been pinpointed. However, more common understanding is that it falls on an odd night (23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th), and possibly the 27th of Ramadan.

Because of its merit, the Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) used to exert himself greatly during Laylatul-Qadr. He would spend the nights in worship. The Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said: “Whoever stands (in prayer) in Laylatul Qadr out of Iman and seeking reward then his previous sins are forgiven.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

It is not surprising to witness that many Muslims spend the night awake — praying, reciting the Qur’an and giving away charity (specially in disbursing their zakat and sadqah) to the poor and indigent.

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The month of Ramadan is a grand witness on the Day of the Judgment. The Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said: "I declare myself clear of them whose detractor is Ramadan." He also said: "Whosoever Fasts experiences two joys. He is joyful when he breaks his Fast, and is joyful because of his Fasting when he meets his Lord (on the Day of Judgment)." [Sahih Muslim]

Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) also said, "Those who Fast the month of Ramadan believing (in Allah and his Messenger) and seeking a reward, all their past sins are forgiven." Another version adds: "and pray (the voluntary night-prayer) in it" and in the end: "he comes out of his sins as on the day his mother gave birth to him."

When the Fast ends (the first day of the month of Shawwal) it is celebrated for three days in a holiday called Eid-ul-Fitr (the Feast of Fast Breaking). Gifts are exchanged. Friends and family members gather together to pray in congregation and to celebrate with a feast of thanksgiving and charitable deeds.

In conclusion, it is worth reminding ourselves with the wise advice of Abul Abbas al-Sabti (may Allah have mercy on him): "The secret of Fasting is that you are hungry. When you are hungry you remember the one who is always hungry and know the strength of the fire of hunger that afflicts him, so that you become charitable towards him. Thus, if you deny yourself food but have no compassion for the hungry and your Fasting does not cause this idea to occur to you, you have not [truly] Fasted and have not understood the intended meaning of the Fast." [Al-Tashawwuf ila rijal al-tasawwuf wa akhbar Abil Abbas al-Sabti: Yusuf ibn al-Zayyat al-Tadili]

According to `Ubadah ibn al-Samit (may Allah be pleased with him), a Companion, the Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) used to say upon entering this month of Ramadan: "O Allah, greet and save me for Ramadan; greet and save Ramadan; greet and save Ramadan on my behalf, and grant me its acceptance."

May Allah save us for this Ramadan and the next one!

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Part 5: Eid-ul-Fitr: the Muslim Festival

Like Christmas, Dewali and Hannukah, Eid-ul-Fitr is a joyous occasion that brings family and friends together, giving away gifts

After a month of fasting in the lunar month of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr on the first day of lunar month of Shawwal. Eid is an Arabic term meaning "festivity" or "celebration" while Fitr means "to break the fast" and can also mean "nature" from the word "fitrat". Eid-ul-Fitr, therefore, symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period and resuming the natural state.

Like Christmas, Dewali and Hannukah, Eid-ul-Fitr is a joyous occasion that brings family and friends together, giving away gifts. The festive atmosphere is displayed by everyone wearing their best attires, and decorating their homes, and feeding guests and anyone who knocks on the door.

Eid-ul-Fitr has a strong religious significance. On this day, a Muslim will get up very early, and pray (establish) the usual, obligatory Fajr (Dawn) prayer. Then he/she will eat a small quantity of food, symbolizing the end of Ramadan, and attend a special congregational Eid prayer, held only for this occasion in the morning (after sunrise) in large open spaces, stadiums, arenas or masajid (mosques). Usually, the entire family goes to the congregational place together. Before attending the Eid prayer, he/she must give a special charity (Sadqatul Fitr) to the poor and the needy. This charity is obligatory on every living individual (including an unborn child) who can afford to pay something extra. Usually, the head of the family will disburse the charity on behalf of everyone in the family during the blessed month of Ramadan or just before the Eid prayer.

Before the Eid prayer, the congregation glorifies Allah, thanking Him for the help and strength that He gave them throughout the month of Ramadan to help them observe the fasting with all its etiquettes.

The Eid prayer is a short one, completed in 2 rakats (seating cycles), followed by a lengthy khutbah (sermon) from the Imam (prayer leader) where the congregation is reminded the blessings of Allah, his/her duties to Allah, fellow creatures, society, environment, etc. The congregation is also reminded of the fact that while the blessed month has ended, Muslims should continue doing good and forbidding evil. They are reminded of the merits of being charitable and hospitable. The worshippers seek forgiveness from Allah for their shortcomings and pray for their salvation and others –” living and dead.

At the end of the khutbah, worshippers embrace each other with the greetings of "Eid mubarak" (blessed Eid), in a spirit of Islamic fraternity, equality of all human beings (irrespective of social status and wealth), peace and love. It is, therefore, quite common to see presidents, ministers, wealthy and the powerful praying side by side with and hugging ordinary people who may or may not have any social standing. Many congregational places will have foods served and distributed after the khutbah. After the Eid prayer, festivities and merriment are commonly observed with visits to the homes of relatives and friends. Children are given gifts or money by their parents and relatives.

Historically, the first Eid was celebrated in the second year of Muslim calendar year Hijri by the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) with his friends and relatives.

Eid-ul-Fitr is a day of thanksgiving, a day of remembrance, a day of celebrating victory, a day of harvest, a day of forgiveness, and a day of peace. Muslims thank Allah for bestowing them with all the bounties without which they could not have survived. They remember and glorify Him for His Mercy and Grace. Through their long and difficult month of fasting, they have learned to be humble and taste firsthand the pains and sufferings of the destitute, the poor and the needy. They remember their moral and social obligations to the fight poverty and replace cries with smiles on the faces of the downtrodden. They feel victorious for being able to fast the month of Ramadan, thus overcoming the cravings of the nafs (lower soul) –” hunger and thirst. They feel cheerful for being able to complete the spiritually journey towards defeating the satan (evil) within them. During the month of Ramadan they planted the seeds of akhirat (Hereafter) through their good and charitable deeds, and are now hopeful of harvesting the benefits. On the Eid day, they seek forgiveness for their shortcoming, mistakes and errors from fellow men and Creator. They commit to amending their lives for the better. They feel peaceful for being able to complete a religious obligation correctly. Their mind is at peace within itself, with others and the Creator — who created him/her for His worship.

The celebration of ‘Eid-ul-Fitr lasts three days, although the main festivities occur on the first day.

Eid Mubarak. May the blessings of Eid be with you!

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