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Eid-ul-Fitr: A Festival for the Humanity

The observance of Eid-ul- Fitr has no separate or independent identity or significance. It connects Islam in its totality. Islam is the religion of peace and harmony. It is a religion given by Allah for all mankind irrespective of race, caste, creed and color. Adam was the first Man created by Allah who came to earth with a message from Allah to guide mankind who would follow through afterwards. Each time the prophets came they preached God's religion of humanity. Submission to Allah is the basis of Islam.

01 May 2022
Eid-ul-Fitr: A Festival for the Humanity


Professor Anwarul Karim, PhD :
Muslims all over the world enjoy the Holy Eid-ul-Fitr with a kind of religious fervor and festivity.  The meaning of Eid is 'joy' for all. Fitr speaks of a final breaking from continuous fasting which ends with the appearance of new moon in the Islamic month of Shawal. On this day, Muslims belonging to all countries, celebrate Eid ul Fitr as a part of joyous gratitude to Allah, the creator of the universe and mankind for His benevolence and mercy.  It was a kind of training for all Muslims since the month of Ramadan was considered very valuable and important because of the fact that Allah communicated His message as a kind of guidance to all mankind through the Prophet Muhammad, (pbuh) in the form of a religious book, Al Qur'an which was conferred upon the whole Mankind as a vested and dignified property which is kept preserved in heaven (lau hey mahfuz) irrespective of race, color and caste.  Fasting was made compulsory for all those who preceded   Muhammad (pbuh) as Allah's prophets and their followers. The Holy Quran, as the blessed gift of Allah was bestowed upon the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on the night of Lailatul Qadr.
Lailatul Qadr appears on or after the last 10days of the Ramadan. In fact, Ramadan was introduced by Allah in the month of Shawal . Allah says in the Holy Quran in the following words:
Oh, ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you, as it is prescribed to those before you. That ye may learn self-restraint, - (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; But if anyone of you is ill or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, - It is better for him. And if ye fast, it is better for you, if ye only know Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Quran as a guide to Mankind, also cleat (signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong).  So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; And perchance ye shall be grateful. (Sura II, Baqara or the Heifer, Section 23, lines 183 -185)
In Islam all are equal to Allah. Eid is a festivity and is also a kind of training that makes the rich and wealthy people to share the enjoyment equally with the poor. It is also associated with the word sadaqah or charity. It is obligatory to all who are not poor but are capable of maintaining their family in ease and comfort. It is also not associated with the word 'mercy.' It is a duty and is considered mandatory to pay the fitra immediately after the Eid moon is sighted and beginning of the Eid prayer. However, one is required to pay the zakat al Fitra during the period of the Ramadhan. It thus enables the poor to celebrate the Eid as a festival equally with all Muslim ummah. There is no distinction between the rich and the poor. One must not look down upon the poor when he meets him. He must embrace and talk good words to him. The amount of Fitra is the same for everyone regardless to one's income. One may contributemore than what is fixed. This is payable to all human being irrespective of caste and creed, race, religion and color. It is compulsory to all. The head of the household may pay the required amount for the other members.
 Sadaqat al-Fitr thus plays a very important role in the development of the bonds between man and man, rich and poor. The rich are obliged to come in direct contact with the poor, and the poor are put in contact with the extremely poor. This contact between the various levels of society helps to build real bonds of kinship and love within the frame work of Islam. The main purpose is to make oneself purify from any kind of indecent act or speech. It is also the way one purifies one's wealth.  
The distribution of Zakat al-Fitr is the same as that of Zakat. They include:
1. the poor,
2. the needy,
3. collectors of Zakath,
4. reconciliation of hearts in respect of people belonging to the other religion conveying the message of Allah to them,
5. freeing captives / slaves,
6. debtors,
7. those fighting for a religious cause or a cause of God or for Jihad in the way of Allah.
8. the traveler.
Ibn 'Umar reported that the Prophet ordered that it (Zakat al-Fitr) be given before people go to perform the (`Eid) prayers.
The observance of Eid-ul- Fitr has no separate or independent identity or significance. It connects Islam in its totality. Islam is the religion of peace and harmony. It is a religion given by Allah for all mankind irrespective of race, caste, creed and color. Adam was the first Man created by Allah who came to earth with a message from Allah to guide mankind who would follow through afterwards. Each time the prophets came they preached God's religion of humanity. Submission to Allah is the basis of Islam. When one submits to God completely, one gets peace. Allah taught this to his prophets including Abraham who responded to his order when God said to him 'Aslem' Submit. Abraham submitted to him then and there by saying 'Aslemto'. He became Muslim. After Noah and the Great Flood that destroyed the whole earth, a new set of things started with Abraham. The religion he preached was Islam.
In this connection, the significance of Eid-ul- Fitr is both material and spiritual. Material, because here on earth, mankind would be guided as long as he/she lives until death and his performance here would be disclosed on the Day of Resurrection or the Last Day of judgment. Thus Eid-ul- Fitr which is the concluding part of the month long Ramadan fast or Siam is a kind of training program along with Eid-ul- Azha, (Eid of sacrifice) for all mankind. The whole thing was based on 'Takwa', fear of Allah. In Eid-ul- Fitr, the poor is given 'fitra'. It is compulsory for all capable Muslim. Both 'fitra' and 'zakat' are a kind of mechanism by which the gap between the rich and the poor is minimized. Payment of 'fitra' to the poor before the 'Eid' prayer is compulsory, and none will be made clean if 'fitra' remains unpaid.
Traditionally Eid is celebrated for three days but it is done mostly in one day. The festivity, however, lasts for three days. It is an official holiday in Muslim-majority countries.

The writer is a former Visiting Scholar, Harvard Divinity School and Center for the World religion, Harvard, USA. He was formerly Treasurer and Vice Chancellor(Assigned), Islamic University, Kushtia and presently Executive Director, Bangabandhu Research Centre andDean, Humanities and Social Science, Northern University Bangladesh, Dhaka. e-mail: [email protected]/yahoo.com

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