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Eid-ul-Fitr, the Most Important Festival in Islam

Eid-ul-Fitr is the most important festival in the Islamic calendar and an occasion to offer thanks to Allah for having given him the strength to observe the fast.

Eid-ul-Fitr is the most important festival in the Islamic calendar. The day does not mark any historical event or episode; but its existence provides the Muslim for an occasion to offer thanks to Allah for having given him the strength and the will to observe fast during the holy month of Ramadhan.

It is also an occasion for prayers when the Muslims gather in large congregations, standing shoulder to shoulder, to demonstrate the equality and equity which is the inherent feature of Islamic society all over the world.

But the greatest significance of this day of rejoicing lies in the fact that on this day every Muslim is enjoined to give the needy food at the rate of the prescribed weight per every member of his household, including servants and guests who were sheltered under his roof the preceding evening.

Eid-ul-Fitr then serves a three-fold purpose: It places upon every Muslim the obligation to remember Allah and offer Him thanks; it affords him an opportunity of spiritual stock-taking in that he can now ponder over the strength of his will or the weakness of his character, as the case may be, which manifested itself during the preceding month; it also is the day for the haves to share a portion of what they have with the have-nots.

And, for those persons who disobeyed this command of Allah this is the day of an end to the month-long pangs of conscience, inner struggle and continuous realisation of the feebleness of their character. No more will they have to argue, without much conviction, against fasting‘. No more will they have to think up an excuse every morning for not fasting’. No more will they have to say “Oh, but fasting is old-fashioned; it was not meant for the modern world.”

It is not my object here to explain the philosophy of fasting. Almost everyone realises the spiritual, social, scientific and medical benefits which are derived from fasting. But so far as a Muslim, a true believer, is concerned, it should be sufficient that fasting is prescribed in the Holy Book, and as such is the command of Allah. Should one seek to justify Allah’s commands?

The measure of a man’s love for his Creator is his unquestioned obedience to the commands of the Creator. When for whole month a Muslim has obeyed Allah, unquestioningly, without complaint, without regret, and, when he has spent his time in prayers, in humility and in charity, should one wonder, if at the end of this period, the Creator may Himself turn to such creature of His and say: “It is now for thee to ask for Me to give.”

Ramadhan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, is the period when man is subjected to a supreme test. Without compulsion, without coercion, the Muslims throughout the world obey God; and every day from dawn to sunset abstain not only from sensual pleasures but even from the necessities of life like food and drink. Some do this in shivering cold, some in burning heat, some do it where days are short and others where days are interminably long. The rich fast as well as the poor, the master as well as the servant; the parents as well as the child; the ruler as well as the subject. They all fast, regardless of the colour or their social position.

Having done this, for one whole month, today on this auspicious day of Eid-ul-Fitr, every Muslim should be ready to face the year that lies ahead with renewed strength, greater understanding and universal goodwill. He has fasted to acquire piety, discipline and self-control. Now the habit of unquestioning obedience to God is cultivated in his heart and mind. He is now trained to accept the commands of Allah, in the remaining eleven months of the year, with the same unwavering loyalty. He has emerged from the month of Ramadhan with a new personality and a stronger character, confident of his ability to subordinate his desire to his will, his emotion to his intellect.

No longer will it be difficult for him to refrain from intoxicating drinks; no longer will he turn away from his less fortunate brethren; no longer will he fail to understand and appreciate the pain of hunger, the pangs of thirst.

So the training period of Ramadhan has come to an end. Now we are entering the era of normal activities of life. If the lessons learnt in Ramadhan have left their marks upon our character, we are entitled to enjoy Eid-ul-Fitr.

Eid Prayer

Once the holy month of Ramadhan is over, the pious get ready to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, Feast of Fast-Breaking, to thank the Almighty who enabled them to fast and to remember the needy and the indigent. It is also customary on such an occasion to give gifts to the members of the family, especially children. Once it becomes known that the next day is going to be the Eid, it is very highly recommended to spend the night preceding the Eid in prayers and adoration.

On p. 104 of al-Saduq’s Thawab al-A’mal, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim is quoted saying that he heard Isma’eel ibn Muhammad quoting Muhammad ibn Sulayman quoting Ahmed ibn Bakr-al-Farisi quoting Muhammadibn Mis’ab quoting Hammad quoting Thabit quoting the great sahabi Anas ibn Malik saying that the Messenger of Allah (S) has said, “The heart of anyone who spends the Eid night [the night preceding the Eid] will not die on the Day when the hearts die.”

How to perform the Eid prayers, what is recommended and what is not in its regard, and all fiqh related to it in the following paragraphs are excerpted from Vol. 1 of Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih by Shaykh (mentor) Abu Ja’far ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Babawayh al-Qummi (306 – 381 A.H.).

Is the Eid prayer compulsory (Sunnah wajibah) or is it highly recommended (Sunnah mustahabbah)? Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, whose followers are referred to as Shi’as Ja’faris Ithna-’Asheris, followers of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (S) as outlined by Imam Ali (as) and according to the fiqh of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as) and who follow all the Infallible Twelve Imams (as), is quoted on p. 339, Vol. 1, of al-Saduq’s book Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih saying, “Prayers on both Eids (al-Fitr and al-Adha) are compulsory, and so is the prayer on the eclipse.”

The author comments on this weighty statement by saying that the Imam (as) means they are among “minor obligations,” that is, sighar al-faraiz, due to one narration by Hareez which states the following:

Zurarah quotes Imam Abu Ja’far (as) saying: “To pray both Eid prayers with an Imam is a Sunnah; no prayers should be performed before or after them on that occasion till the time of zawal.

He (as) is also quoted on the same page as saying, “No Eid prayers on both Eids should be offered without an Imam (a just one), but if you pray it by yourself, there is no harm in doing so.” Hareez, on p. 340 of the same reference, quotes Zurarah citing Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (as) saying, “The Commander of the Faithful (Imam Ali), peace be upon him, used not to eat anything on Eid al-Adha till he eats of what he offers by way of sacrifice. And he used not to go out on Eid al-Fitr before eating something and paying the fitra.” Then he added: “And we do likewise.”

How should the Eid (be it Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha) prayers be performed? They are two rek’ats without iqamah or athan. The imam starts by calling “Allahu Akbar!” once, then he recites Surat al-Fatiha and “Sabbih ismi Rabbikal-A’la” (Surat al-A’la, The Most High, Chapter 87, which is comprised of 19 verses), then he makes takbeer (by saying: “Allahu Akbar!”) five times, then he makes qunoot followed by rukoo’, then he is to prostrate twice (as is the case with fajr prayers).

When he stands to perform the second rek’a, he should recite Surat al-Fatiha followed by “Wal shamsi wa Duhaha, etc.” (Surat al-Shams [The Sun], Chapter 91, which is comprised of 15 verses), followed by four takbeers, including takbeerat al-qiyam. Having made takbeer for the fifth time, he makes rukoo’ and goes on to the prostrations as described above. What is recommended to be said during the qunoot (in the first rek’a) of a great occasion such as the Eid? We think the most beautiful supplication is one narrated by Muhammad ibn al-Fudayl who quotes Abu al-Sabah al-Kinani quoting Abu Abdullah Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as), our sixth Imam, as follows:

In order to benefit the readers who are not versed in Arabic, we would like to offer this modest translation of the sophisticated text cited above, imploring the Almighty to forgive us for falling short of matching the Arabic text (English never rises to the level of classic Arabic especially when it comes to prayers, the Holy Qur’an, and supplications):

I testify that there is no god but Allah, the One and Only God, without any partner, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. Lord! You are the Lord of greatness and magnanimity, generosity and might, potency, authority and dignity! I plead to You on this Day which You have made as an Eid for the Muslims and as a treasure for Muhammad (S) and an increase (in his prestige), to bless Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad, to also bless Your angels who are near to You as well as all Your deputed messengers, and to forgive us and all believing men and women, and all Muslim men and women, the living and the dead.

O Lord! I plead to You to grant me of the best of that for which your righteous servants plead to You, and I seek refuge with You against all (evil) from which Your righteous servants seek refuge with You. Allah is the First and the Last of everything, the One Who knows everything and Who brings them back to life. The destiny of everything is to Him and so is its return. He is the One Who manages the affairs and brings life back to those in the graves. He accepts good deeds and unveils what is hidden; He reveals the secrets of the hearts. Allahu Akbar! His Kingdom is great; He is the ever-Living Who never dies; when He decrees a thing, He only says to it “Be!” and it is! To You are the voices humbled and the faces succumb, and no vision can ever reach him, nor can any tongue glorify You enough.

How to Perform Salat ul-‘Eid al-Fitr

The Muslims observe two big festivals in a year. One as ´Eid-ul-Fitr and the other is ‘Eid-ul-Azha. These two are the days of great festivity.

‘Eid-ul-Fitr is observed at the end of the holy month of Ramadhan. The fasting creates the feelings of faith, spirituality, patience, contentment, and helping the poor. With a view to express our joy on these feelings we observe Eid. The festivity of the Muslims is not akin to dancing, singing vulgar songs or playing dirty games. We offer our gratefulness to Allah and also offer the Salat ul-‘Eid for those religious, spiritual and moral gains which accrue to us in the holy month of Ramadhan.

The Muslims offer sacrifice on the day of ‘Eid-ul-Azha. Thus they pledge to give away their lives in the way of Allah and that of Islam. This is a great month for the believer. This is the motto of a Muslim’s life. In happiness of this pledge, we offer prayer of Eid-ul-Azha.

Prayer of Eid is not Wajib but Sunnat nowadays when our Present Imam is hidden from our eyes. The niyat (intention) of Salat ul-‘Eid should be done as follows:-
I pray two rak’at Salat of ‘Eid-ul-Fitr or ‘Eid-ul-Azha Sunnat qurbatan ilallah.”

In the first rak’at, after Sura Hamd, Sura A’ala is recited then hands are raised for Qunuut.

Du’a Qunuut

“Allahumma ahlal Kibriyae wal azamate wa ahlal juude wal jabaruut, wa ahlal afwe warrahmah, wa ahlattaqwa wal maghferah; asaloka behaqqe haazal yaumil lazi ja’altahu lil muslimeena ‘eedanw, wa le Muhammadin Sallallaho alaihe we Aal’ehi zukhranw wa karamatanw wa sharafanw wa mazeeda; an tusalieya ‘ala Muhammdin wa Aale Muhammadin, ws an tudkhelani fi kulle khairin adkhalta fihe Muhammadan wa Aala Muhammadin wa an Tukhrijani – min kulle Suu-in Akhrajta minho Muhsmmadan. wa Aala Muhammadin. Salawaatoka ‘aiaihe wa ‘alaihim ajma’een. Allahumma, inni as’aloka khaira ma sa-a-laka behi ibadokassale-huun; wa a’oozo beka mimmasta’aza minho ‘ibadokal mukhlesu-un.”

In first rak’at, the Qunuut is recited five times along with Takbirs (Allahu Akbar). Then after Rukoo’ and Sajda, the second rak’at begins.

In the second rak’at Sura Shams is recited after Sura Hamd.
In Surah Shams Allah has directed man to keep his self pure and to protect himself from sins. After the recitation of this Surah, the Qunnut is again recited but now only four times. Thereafter rukuu, Sajda, Tashahhud and Salaam are done in the usual way.

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