The term Eid al-Fitr means “the feast of breaking the fast“. The phrase is composed of two words: Eid meaning a recurring festivity; and Fitr meaning to break, referring to the breaking of the cycle of fasting, seeking piety, spiritual fulfillment and forgiveness. It is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Muslims worldwide since the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), marking the end of the month of Ramadan and it marks an occasion on which we thank Allah for His gift of the Holy Qur’an, for all His mercy and benevolence bestowed upon us. Fasting reinforces the virtues of patience and self-discipline, as well as offering an opportunity to express our gratitude to God by sharing our extra resources with those in need.
The notions of sharing and generosity are amongst the central ethical principles of Islam, and part of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Hazrat ‘Ali and our Imams (a.s). According to a tradition, once a poor Bedouin asked the Prophet, how he could help? The Prophet advised him to carry water on his camel for those who did not have daily access to it. In another hadith narrated by al-Bukhari, the Prophet invoked blessings for a woman who had cared for a stray dog. When she saw a thirsty dog, she took off her sock and tied it to her veil to draw some water from the well. For her generosity and kindness, the Prophet prayed for her.
Thus, acts of kindness, generosity and sharing, no matter how small, are important expressions of the social conscience in Islam. As Allah has mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in Sura al-Baqara, 177:
Righteousness is not in turning one’s face to the East or the West. Rather, in the eyes of Allah, righteous are those who believe in Allah and give of what they have out of the love of Allah to those in need.
In Islam, the expression of piety has two aspects: (a) prayer and other acts of devotion on the one hand, and (b) manifestations of social responsibility and generosity on the other. These two expressions are not independent; rather, they are two intertwined dimensions of faith.
God expects the believers to bear the responsibilities of creating an enabling environment and to make meaningful contributions to the improvement of the quality of life of people in their communities.
With Muslims living in different countries, having distinctive cultures and diverse traditions, celebration of Eid incorporates local customs and traditions. Generally, Eid al-Fitr commences with special recitation of congregational prayers, in which we thank God for His bounties and mercies.
In the morning of Eid al-Fitr, families, friends and community congregate for Eid prayers in which according to tradition, verses are recited from the Holy Qur’an. Two Surahs are recited in each Rak’at, the first of which is always Surah al-Fatiha and the second Surah we recite is Surah al-Ikhlas; this is followed by Du’a i Qunut which forms the major portion of the Eid Namaz as it is recited five times in the first Rak’at and four times in the second Rak’at.
Meaning of Du’a i Qunut: ‘O Our Lord! In thy Mercy give unto us in this world that which is good and, in the hereafter too, that which is good, and guard us from the chastisement of Hell. O merciful of all Merciful, O Lord, I am helpless so help me – I seek from You blessings of this day of Eid which You have made for Muslims. There is no deity except Allah, the Forbearing, the Bounteous. There is no deity except Allah the Exalted, Magnificent. Glory be to Allah, the Lord of the seven Heavens and the Lord of seven earths and what is within them and what is between them and Who is the Lord of the glorious Throne. And all praise is due to Allah, the Sustainer of all beings.
Eid prayer continues with: “O Lord, have mercy on Muhammad (pbuh) and his progeny.” “God hears one who praises Him.” “God is Great!” “We turn to Allah in repentance and beseech Him for forgiveness.” “With the help of Allah and His strength, I rise and sit.” At the completion of Eid Namaz, we recite Tashahhud which concludes by prayer of peace (salaam). This is followed by celebration and rejoicing throughout the day with expressions of affection towards friends, gathering of families and exchange of greetings and gifts.
In the Muslim tradition, Eid is both a personal and a social festivity. It is a time to maintain the practice of prayer and self-restraint to enhance taqwa, that is God-consciousness, in our lives. In Nahj al-Balagha, Imam ‘Ali (a.s) says:
Every day in which one does not commit a sin is [a day of] Eid.
Amidst all this celebration, this is also a time for us to be grateful to God, to forgive and forget any wrongs that have been committed against us, a time to remember the less fortunate, and to extend compassion and kindness, support, and generosity to others. This obliges us to be thoughtful, responsive to the needs of our families, our communities, our neighborhoods, our nation, and all mankind. Faith is not simply a set of beliefs held as philosophical ideals. Rather, it is a commitment that must be reflected in our lives and guide us to engage with the world around us. The Holy Qur’an repeatedly reminds us that we have a responsibility to those that are less privileged than us, and assures us of the many rewards for generosity and charity:
“For those who give in charity, men and women, and loan to Allah a beautiful loan, it shall be increased manifold, and they shall have a liberal reward.” 57:18
“The likeness of those who spend their wealth in Allah’s way is as the likeness of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He will. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.” 2:261
It is important to note that in the verses referenced above, the act of generosity towards fellow human beings is elevated to the level of “spending in God’s way” and as a “Good Loan” – or qarz-e hasanah – to God.
During the Fatimid period of Islamic history, it was customary for the Imam-Caliphs to address assemblies after the Eid Namaz. In his Eid al-Fitr khutba, our 12th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana al-Qa’im (a.s), referred to the assembly of believers before him as ‘Servants of God’. The Imam reminded them that Eid was a festival which Allah honors, and he counselled the servants of God to be faithful in their intentions, to submit their supplications to God and to seek forgiveness for their errors and mistakes.
In the year 948 CE, the Fatimid Caliph, 13th Ismaili Imam Mawlana al-Mansur (a.s), delivered a khutba on the day of Eid in the city of al-Mahdiyya, in which he said:
“Indeed, most truly, did God, the Mighty and the Glorious, make this day of yours a feast of greater importance than other days. He seals with it a month more excellent than other months.”
Mawlana Imam al-Mansur (a.s), also chose the Eid al-Fitr khutba as an occasion to reaffirm his submission to Allah. The Imam expressed his overwhelming gratitude to Allah, saying:
“Praise! Praise! And thanks to You! Thanks! Over and over again. There is no equivalent for Your favors; no repayment for Your kindnesses, confessing thus to the inability to express thanks even though it were to be attempted in every language throughout the whole of time.”
As we rejoice on this auspicious day of Eid al-Fitr, let us offer our thanksgiving for the blessing of the Almighty Allah and on this occasion let us become a catalyst for us to reflect on values and actively find ways to put our values into action, including through the work of Imamat institutions. (akdn.org)
As we celebrate Eid al-Fitr, let us take this day as an opportunity, as trustees of God’s creation, to realize the social conscience of Islam; fortify our commitment to the ethics of giving hope where hope is needed, to be kind where kindness is needed; and to bring alive the spirit of generosity by sharing the abundance that God has bestowed upon each one of us.
Let us pray:
O’Lord, help us to live our lives in keeping with your guidance to be compassionate and generous towards our Muslim brothers and sisters, and to humanity as a whole.
O’Lord, fill our hearts with your love and gratitude for your favors. Ameen!
Recommended reading: https://ismailimail.blog/?s=shawwal+2020
Eid al-Fitr Mubarak!