Know all you need to know about Eid, the most important festival in Islam. You will get all the information about history, cultural importance, different types of Eids, their importance to Muslims etc and some related questions
There are two Eids celebrated in Islam and both are associated with major acts of worship. The first is Eid al-Fitr, which follows Ramadan, and the second is Eid al-Adha, which follows the Hajj.
What is Ramadan
Ramadan is an entire month during which Muslims focus on purifying themselves, getting closer to God, and growing in their knowledge/faith. During Ramadan Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This fasting includes refraining from food, drink, sexual intercourse, bad language, and bad behavior. Muslims generally read an entire chapter of the Qur’an each day (it has 30 chapters) so they read the entire book in one month. It is often compared to being a mini boot-camp in which they arm themselves with knowledge by reading the Qur’an and try becoming physically fit but modifying their diet, increasing their good deeds, and committing more and greater acts of worship. It also helps to bring them closer to family, friends, and neighbors as they break their fasts together.
After such an extensive training session, having a celebration is something logical. And this is where Eid-al-Fitr comes in. It is a celebration which lasts 3 days and celebrates the successful completion of Ramadan and the newly renewed spiritual cleansing and connection. This particular Eid is also associated with sweets and some call it the Sugar Festival or Sweet Festival. Sweets of various kinds are a common feature of this Eid. There are many different ways in which people celebrate the Eid but in general they all go in the morning to pray the special Eid prayer.
After the Eid prayer people generally have a feast of sorts with their families and or friends. It is a typical time to travel to travel to near and dear one’s homes and exchange pleasantries. In the Middle East, which has influenced Indian celebrations, it is common to buy new clothes for Eid and children often receive Eidi. Eidi is a gift like money, presents or even flowers to small children by the other elders of the family.
Interestingly, the Eidi on Eid especially in cash is a unique advantage for children, as parents do not mind their demand for money, unlike getting scolded on other days. According to some elders, Eidi is a way for people to open their hearts and keep an easy hand on the money to share with others. This makes one realize that currency should not be restricted to just one but it should also trickle down to other classes of society beginning from your own family.
The second major act of worship to occur is the Hajj. The Hajj is one of the most important acts of worship that a Muslim will ever experience. It is a once in a lifetime experience for most Muslims one that requires extensive planning, training, and commitment. Both the Hajj and the following Eid al-Adha are based around the father of Abrahamic religions Abraham (or as they call him Ibrahim) and his family. Hajj is a requirement on all Muslims who can perform it at least once in their lifetime. Every part of the experience is based in a remembrance of Ibrahim and his family and their faith in God. The Kaba’a itself is a holy site. The black stone which is built into part of the wall is believed to have been a dazzling white (blackened over the centuries by the sins of mankind) and was sent down to earth by God to show Adam and Eve where to build an altar for worship.
Eid al-Adha (the Festival/Holiday/Feast of Sacrifice):
This festival is done in remembrance of Abrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son out of faith in Allah and Allah’s mercy on all. According to Islamic tradition, it was believed that Abraham loved his son more than anything in this world. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. Both father and son bowed before the will of God and Abraham sacrificed his son. God showed mercy and Abraham’s son was replaced by an animal. Abraham’s loyalty towards his God was established, and it started a tradition where Muslims were required to sacrifice an animal each year and distribute 2/3rd of the flesh among the poor and needy.
It is perhaps the only occasion, which also marks the obedience of the son toward his father and God.
It is celebrated on the 10th day of the 12th month, Dhu a-Hijjah. It occurs after the Hajj pilgrimage, which is the fifth pillar of Islam, undertaken by the Muslims. This festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and vigor among Muslims. Men and women dress up in new clothes and go to mosques. They offer special prayers or ‘Dua’ for the peace and prosperity of all Muslims. After the prayer, sacrifice is done. Muslims greet one another ‘Eid Mubarak’ and share their warmth. They visit relatives and friends and exchange gifts. Special delicacies and dishes are prepared and served amongst family and friends.
A most prominent feature of this celebration is the sacrifice of an animal to commemorate the sacrifice of prophet Abrahim as mentioned earlier.
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