Saturday, September 11, 2010

End of Ramadan, Beginning of Eid

Eid ul-Fitr, often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity", while Fiṭr means "conclusion of the fast"; and so the holiday celebrates the conclusion of the thirty days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramdan. Muslims are commanded by God in the Qu'ran to complete their fast on the last day of Ramadan and then recite God's praises all throughout the period of Eid.

Common greetings during this holiday are the Arabic ‘Eid Mubārak ("Blessed Eid") or ‘Eid Sa‘eed ("Happy Eid"). In addition, many countries have their own greetings based on local language and traditions - in Turkey, for example, a typical saying might be Bayramınız kutlu olsun or "May your Bayram - Eid - be happy." Muslims are also encouraged on this day to forgive and forget any differences or past animosities that may have occured with others during the year.

Typically, Muslims wake up relatively early in the morning—always before sunrise— offer Salatul Fajr (the pre-sunrise prayer), and in keeping with the Sunnah (traditions and actions of the Prophet Muhammad), clean one's teeth with a Miswaak or toothbrush, take a shower (Ghusul) after Fajr prayers, put on new clothes (or the best available), and apply perfume.

It is forbidden, to fast on the Day of Eid. That is why it is recommended to have a small breakfast (as a sign of not being on a fast on that day) of sweet dish, preferably the date fruit, before attending the special Eid prayer. It is a Prophetic tradition that the Sadaqat-ul-fitr, an obligatory charity, is paid to the poor and the needy before performing the ‘Eid prayer by all those adult Muslims who are required to pay Zakat. Muslims recite the following Takbir (incantation) in the low voice while going to the Eid prayer: Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. Laa ilaaha ilal-lahu wal-Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa-lilla hil hamd. Another tradition of Muhammad Muslims are recommended to use two separate routes to and from the prayer ground.

Eid prayer is performed in congregation in open areas like fields, community centers, etc or at mosques. After the prayers, Muslims visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances or hold large communal celebrations in homes, community centers or rented halls. Eid gifts are frequently given to children and immediate relatives; it is also common in some cultures for children to be given small sums of money (Eidis) by adult relatives or friends.

Here is a link to a video showing Eid prayers.

Zakāt or " alms giving", one of the Five Pillars of Islam, is the giving of a small percentage of one's possessions (surplus wealth) to charity generally to the poor and needy. It is often compared to the system of tithing, but it serves principally as the welfare contribution to poor and deprived Muslims, although others may have a rightful share. It is the duty of Islamic community not just to collect zakat but to distribute it fairly as well.

As a mandatory requirement of Islamic faith, every year 2.5% of one's wealth is given away to the poor. Generally the sharing of wealth is called zakat, whereas the sadqat could mean the sharing of wealth as well sharing of happiness among God's creation, such as saying kind words, smiling at someone, taking care of animals or environments, etc.

Zakat or sadqah is worship as means of spiritual purification. It is the only tax sanctioned to the state according to Islamic law. Muslim jurists agree that zakat is obligatory on the Muslim who has reached puberty, who is sane, who is free, and who owns the minimum assigned, nisab thoughout Islamic history; denying Zakat equals denying the Islamic faith. However, Muslim jurists differ on the details of zakat, which may include rate, the exemptions, the kinds of wealth that are zakatable. Zakatable refers to assets subject to zakat according to Islamic examples and directives. Some scholars consider the wealth of children and insane individuals zakatable. Some scholars consider all agricultural products zakatable, others restrict zakat to specific kinds only. Some consider debts zakatable. Similar differences exist for business assets and women's jewellery. Some require certain minimum nisab for zakatability. The same kind of differences also exist about the disbursement of zakat.

The Qur'an does not provide the definition of zakatable wealth nor does it provide the required percentages in zakat. It is left to Sunnah togive, by example or by directives. It must be realized, however, that the Qur'an mentions a few kinds of zakatable possessions, such as gold and silver, crops and fruits, earnings of trade and other business enterprises and what is drawn from beneath the earth (natural resources).

Muslims fulfil this religious obligation by giving a fixed percentage of their surplus wealth. Zakat has been paired with such a high sense of righteousness that it is often placed on the same level of importance as offering Salat. Muslims see this process also as a way of purifying themselves from their greed and selfishness and also safeguarding future business. In addition, Zakat purifies the person who receives it because it saves him from the humiliation of begging and prevents him from envying the rich. Its importance and centrality to Islam results in the "punishment" for not paying when able being very severe. In the 2nd edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam it states, "...the prayers of those who do not pay zakat will not be accepted".

Information provided by Wikipedia, on line.

Eid is a time of great celebration here in the UAE. It equates to our Christmas in the US. The malls are full right before as people shop for Eid gifts and the stores are having sales and advertisements are everywhere promoting their products. Unfortunately, it is commercialized just like Christmas in America. It is reported that the Sheikhs and more wealthy Emirati gives items such as cars to their friends and relatives. Yesterday Sheikh Khalifa received the military and dignitaries and other royal family members at his palace. This was aired on television. Afterwards they went to Eid prayers. Security was very, very tight in the city yesterday with police cars located at the corner of every block anywhere near the palace. I happened to ride by the palace on my way home from the gym (and I just thought about it that I ride by the palace every single day!) just as they were breaking up to head to Eid prayers. Three very nice helicopters were sitting on the helipad next to the palace. Unbelievable, these people fly to events in helicopters.

The Emirati attend Eid prayers and visit their relatives and have lavish dinners to celebrate the end of Ramadan. I am providing a link that you can cut and paste into your browser with a video on the types of foods prepared for Eid festivities. The quality is not that great but it is adequate to give you an idea.

The next few days are official holidays in the country and everything pretty much shuts down. The Emirati often travel during this period of time and take grand holidays to Europe and other places. School doesn't start back until after Eid is over.

Ramadan begins and ends with certain phases of the moon. I know the crescent moon marks the end and the crescent is considered a symbol of Eid and you often see it on the Mosques. So Ramadan and Eid are not a fixed date on the calendar and it changes around from year to year. They have special people who are "moon sighters" that announce the beginning and end of Ramadan. It is a very respected and complicated approach.

So Eid is in full swing today and will be going strong over the next few days. It is a sacred time to the Muslims and looked forward to all year through.

Capture the essence of Ramadan in the UAE by checking out this video

I find these videos interesting. As non-Muslims we are not allowed inside a Mosque. So it is an experience to see them worship.

****All photos and video courtesy of Gulf News******

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