SHAFAQNA -Â An important date on the Islamic calendar `Eid Al-Fitr marks not just the end of Ramadan but in many ways the rebirth and cleansing of one’s faith following a month long of abstinence.
A fast of both the mind and body, Ramadan, like `Eid Al-Fitr stands beyond worldly affairs to teach us lessons in humility, compassion and truthfulness.
“It is not a festival related in any way to worldly affairs. Its significance is purely spiritual,” Dr Zakir Naik, a well known scholar and speaker, says, explaining how `Eid Al-Fitr connects more directly with the spirituality of worship and the inherent nature of faith.
“It is the day when Muslims thank Allah for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe fast and obey His commandment during the holy month of Ramadan.”
Commenting on the inherent significance of this very holy event, Dr Naik, explains how `Eid Al-Fitr is indeed “a unique festival.”
He added that if Muslims join together to celebrate the end of the month of fasting it is not so much the end of a difficult trial they’re marking, but rather the joy to have complied with God’s commands.
This concept is best expressed by Imam Zayn al-Abidin when he said,Â â€œO Lord, Thou hast ordained Ramadan to be one of the most chosen .. .. ; and Thou hast distinguished it from all other months, and chosen it out of all other seasons and periods; and given it preference to all the times of the year, by having sent the Qur’an and the light of guidance in it, and by having increased the faith, and by having enjoined the observance of fast in it, and by encouraging us to stand up for prayer at night, and by placing in it the glorious â€˜Night of Qadrâ€™ which is better than a thousand months.
“Therefore, in accordance with Thy command, we kept fast in its days, and with Thy help, we stood up for prayers in its nights; presenting ourselves, by means of its fasts and prayers, for Thy Mercy which Thou dist offer to us.
“And, verily, this month of Ramadan stayed amongst us a welcome stay; and gave us a righteous company; bestowing upon us the most excellent benefits in the universe. Now, it departs from us at the completion of its time.
“Therefore, we bid it farewell as we did good-bye to one whose departure is hard upon us and makes us sad; and whose parting away makes us feel lonely.â€ Then he turns towards the month of Ramadan, speaking in an endearing tone:
“How much did we long for thee yesterday; and how intense will be our eagerness for thee tomorrow. Peace be on thee and thy excellence of which we have been deprived, and thy blessings which will no longer be with us.â€
As Ramadan is meant as a spiritual retreat and at cleansing the soul from all sins, `Eid Al-Fitr marks somewhat the rebirth of one’s religion in the mercy of God.
Scholars agree that if performed with full dedication, fasting gives believers new strength and determination to abide by God’s law and remain within the teachings of the Qur’an. There lies the gift of fasting and the blessing of `Eid.
As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declared, “Fasting is prescribed for man to purify his soul.â€ In Ramadan, the month of fasting, you become the guest of God. Do praise Him with devotion.”
This year maybe more than in any other given time in Islamic history has the Muslims community been more in need of guidance and determination in their faith. As the world has been engulfed in violence, hatred and prejudice, as religious communities have been defined by their respective bias and antagonism against those they perceived as a threat, Muslims need more than ever to rally around the Scriptures.
In a parallel which has not escaped scholars and intellectuals such Dr Andrew Morrow, the author of â€œThe Covenants of Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the Worldâ€, Muslims today are faced with the same degree of hatred and mistrust they did over 14 centuries ago when the Prophet (PBUH) faced the pagan tribes of Quraysh.
Like it was then, Islam is being ridiculed and misrepresented, Muslims are being targeted and oppressed.
And so for many, this `Eid Al-Fitr holds great significance, as there is a sense of urgency in our common need to hold on to what is true and fair in order to replace todayâ€™s evil by something which is better.
In that sense `Eid Al-Fitr is more than just a religious festival or even the expression of Muslimsâ€™ cultural heritage. And while there is nothing wrong with keeping up with traditions, Imams this year have called on their respective communities to look beyond the lights and the present giving to join in the greater meaning of this religious holiday.
Regardless of oneâ€™s financial status or ethnicity `Eid Al-Fitr will bring the same blessings to all those who pledged themselves to Islam. After all Islam was always meant as the celebration of pluralism within the unity of God and the expression of His laws.
As Dr Naik remarksÂ â€œ`Eid al-Fitr day stands for the fulfillment of one month long committed good work and sacrifice as the central part of Ramadan fasting. â€˜Fitrâ€™ means to break and it signifies the breaking of the fasting period and of all evil habits. It is a show of joy at attaining spiritual prosperity after a month of fasting. It is a time for contemplation, spirituality, peace and brotherhood.
When a Muslim comes to mosque or prayer-ground for offering his RamadanÂ prayer upon the close of Holy Ramadan fasting month, it is presumed that he or she has rectified their lives they have lived erroneously and to live afresh from that day onward like new genuine Muslims. Muslims come into the mosque completing the holy month of fasting and repentance and by gaining the virtue of patience, kindness, righteousness and self-confidence that could be seen as human victory in real life.â€