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|Written by Maha Ansari|
|Thursday, 25 August 2011 11:57|
Ramadan. A period of sacrifice, endurance, and spirituality. A month of abstinence from all that is forbidden, and engagement in all that is in accordance with His will. A momentous period of spiritual training from which the devoted follower emerges as a transformed individual, with a character chiselled to perfection. Upon serious contemplation, can we truly state that we have lived this month to its fullest potential? Have the passing fasts of this holy period clarified our vision of righteousness, or have they merely amplified our excitement at the prospect of the boisterous celebrations that are to follow?
As we submit ourselves to the parade of parties, feasts, and festivities surrounding the closing of Ramadan, we must strive to look beyond the horizon of the so-called “freedom” from fasting and bear in mind the true grounds of our celebration. Let us delve into the life of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to comprehend the religious significance of Eid-ul-fitr (annual celebration "of the feast", marking the end of Ramadan).
610 A.D. was a momentous year, for it was during this period that the prophet, peace be upon him, was first revealed the Holy Quran. In the proceeding years, he received frequent visits from the angel Jibreel, who made known to him the sacred verses which were an instrument of guidance sent by God. Among other things, Ramadan became a period during which Muslims commemorated the revelation of the Holy Quran, and fasted in an act of utmost submission to Allah. Its conclusion, Eid-ul-fitr, marked mankind’s liberation from a period in which the world was wrought with sin and darkness, and the commencement of an era of enlightenment, in which one could attain peace by means of submission to Islam. As such, Eid is a celebration of unity and spiritual prosperity, brought about by the glorious Quran. Yet, though the term “celebration” brings to mind a series of social events, there are myriad other aspects to the celebration of Eid-ul-fitr that often slip into the land of neglect.
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, performed a number of specific duties on Eid-ul-fitr. As believers, we must emulate his behaviour in order to gain entry into Paradise. We must resist the temptation of sleeping in and arise early, to welcome this joyous day with a spirit of hope and enthusiasm. Cleanliness of the mind, spirit, and body is particularly emphasized on the day of Eid-ul-fitr. After the fajr salaat (dawn prayer), the Prophet, peace be upon him, would bathe, clean his teeth, and dress in his wardrobe’s finest. A sweet breakfast was eaten prior to departing for salaat (which was performed in congregation). The Prophet, peace be upon him, would recite a prayer to himself until the commencement of the congregation prayer, after which he would take a different route during his retreat from the prayer grounds. Indeed, no better example exists of how to behave at the conclusion of Ramadan than the commendable ways of Allah’s messenger.
Eid is a day of unity, which should be spent in the blissful company of one’s family and friends. There are, however, particular individuals whose company Islam places profound emphasis upon. It is recommended to visit one’s relatives, and the family of the deceased, in an effort to promote a spirit of togetherness and hearten the souls of those who have suffered loss. If one is capable of doing so, presenting loved ones with gifts is an act of kindness which certainly reflects the spirit of Eid. However, though gifting the beloved is commendable, a more significant aspect of Eid is the bestowment of zakaat ul-Fitr (a small amount of charity made obligatory on every Muslim during Ramadan), a task which must be carried out prior to performing Salaat-al-Eid (Eid prayers). Its purpose is to purify one’s soul from indecency and sins, and to enable the less fortunate than oneself to participate in the festivities. It cannot be doubted that there are a multitude of means to celebrate Eid that serve to strengthen one’s faith and assist others.
Eid-ul-fitr. A day of mercy, unity, and sacrifice in the name of God. A time of reflection upon the glorious gift that is the Quran, and engagement in a celebration of the spiritual strength that is acquired throughout the month of Ramadan. A momentous occasion of remembrance of the deceased, compassion for the needy, and gratitude for the beloved. Upon solemn reflection, let us acknowledge the true significance of Eid, and strive to celebrate it in a manner that pleases Him and nourishes our souls. Let us pledge to ourselves that throughout the upcoming year, particularly during Ramadan, we will gaze beyond the realm of worldly matters and set our sights upon the reward of utmost value: the reward of Paradise.
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