The Festival of Fast Breaking (‛Eed-ul-Fitr)
Festivals represent apparent rituals of religion. When the Prophet ﷺ arrived in Madeenah, he found that the people there had set aside two days in the year for fun. He asked them, ‘‘What are these two days?” “We used to play and have fun on these days before the advent of Islam,” they replied. The Prophet ﷺ then said, “Allah has given you two better days: ‛Eed-ul-Fitr and (‛Eed-ul-Adhaa.” (Sunan Abu Daawood: 1134) Explaining that festivals represent the religion of their followers, he once observed, “Every nation has a festival, and this is our festival.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 909; Saheeh Muslim: 892)
The Meaning of ‛Eed in Islam
‛Eed is a day of festivity and rejoicing. On this day, Muslims express their happiness and their gratitude to Allah for guiding them to the truth and for assisting them in completing the fast of Ramadaan. They share happiness with everyone by putting on their best clothes, giving charity to the poor and the needy and engaging in permissible celebrations and festivities which make everyone happy and remind them of Allah’s favours upon them.
There are only two annual festivals in Islam, and Muslims must not celebrate any other day apart from them. They are: (1) The Festival of Fast Breaking (‛Eed-ul-Fitr), which is celebrated on the first day of the lunar month of Shawwaal, and (2) the Festival of Sacrifice (‛Eed-ul-Adhaa), which is celebrated on the tenth day of the lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah.
The Festival of Fast Breaking (‛Eed-ul-Fitr)
‛Eed-ul-Fitr falls on the first day of the lunar month of Shawwaal, marking the end of the month-long Ramadaan fast. Just as fasting during the month of Ramadaan is an act of worship, celebrating ‛Eed-ul-Fitris also an act of worship whereby Muslims express their gratitude to Allah for enabling them to perform this act of worship and for completing His grace upon them. As the Qur’an states, “You should complete the number of days and proclaim Allah’s greatness for the guidance He has given you so that you will be thankful.” (Soorat Al-Baqarah, 2:185)
What Should Be Done On the ‛Eed Day?
- Offering the ‛Eed Prayer: Islam stresses that the ‛Eedprayer should be performed. In fact, it was one of those practices which the Prophet ﷺ observed consistently and even encouraged not only men but also women and children to observe. Its time starts after the sun has risen to the length of a spear above the horizon (just over 1 metre) and lasts until it has crossed the meridian.
Description: The ‛Eed prayer consists of two units (rak‛aat; singular rak‛ah) in which the imaam recites the Qur’an loudly, after which he delivers a sermon (khutbah) in two parts. This prayer contains several takbeeraat (singular takbeerah, one’s saying Allaahu akbar) at the beginning of each unit more than the ordinary prayer: The imaam says Allaahu akbar and, before he starts reciting the Qur’an, repeats the same utterance six more times; also, after rising from the prostrate position to the standing position to perform the second unit, he repeats the same utterance five more times in addition to the takbeer he has recited while rising to the second unit. The worshippers follow the imaam in these movements, doing and saying exactly the same.
- Paying Zakaat-ul-Fitr: Allah has enjoined zakaat-ul-fitr (literally, the purifying obligatory charity of the breaking of the fast) on anyone who possesses a day’s and night’s worth of food. It consists of one saa‛ of the most common staple food of the country, be it rice, wheat or dates, and must be given to the Muslim poor and needy so that there would be no person in need of food on the ‛Eedday .It is permissible, however, to pay the value of zakaat-ul-fitr in money instead if it appears that this will be more beneficial to the poor.
Time of Its Payment: Zakaat-ul-fitr is to be paid from the time the sun sets on the last day of Ramadaan up to the time of the ‛Eed prayer. It may, however, be paid a day or two before the ‛Eed day as well.
The amount of zakaat-ul-fitris one saa‛ of the usual foods tuffs of the country, be it rice, wheat or dates. One saa‛ is equivalent to approximately 3 kg.
A Muslim must pay it for himself and all the persons he is legally bound to support, such as his wife and children. It is recommended to pay it on behalf of an unborn child.
The Prophet ﷺ enjoined it as,“atonement for any obscene language used while observing the fast and for providing food for the needy. It would be accepted as zakaat from those who pay it before the ‛Eed prayer, but it would be considered as mere sadaqah (voluntary charity) for those who pay it after the ‛Eed prayer.” (Sunan Abu Daawood: 1609)
- Muslims on this occasion : spread joy and merriment to all family members, young and old, men and women, providing all possible types of lawful amusements. They wear their best and most beautiful clothes and eat and drink, as doing so is an act of worship. Fasting on this day is strictly forbidden.
- They recite the : takbeer on this special occasion on the night preceding the ‛Eed day and on the way to the ‛Eed prayer, and continue doing so until the imaam appears for the‛Eed prayers starts, expressing gratitude to Allah ﷻ for enabling them to complete the fast of Ramadaan. The Qur’an states, “He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him for having guided you, so that you may be thankful.” (Soorat Al-Baqarah, 2:185)
The manner of takbeer pronounced on this occasion is as follows: Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, laa ilaaha ill allaah, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, walillaahil-hamd (Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest; there is no god worthy of worship except Allah; Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest; all praise belongs to Allah).
One may also recite the following: Allaah uakbaru kabeeran, wal-hamdu lillaahi katheeran, wa subhaan-Allaahi bukratan waaseelaa (Allah is the Greatest;His is the abundant praise, and glory be to Him day and night).
Men generally pronounce the takbeer aloud, but without disturbing other people; women, however, pronounce it quietly..