Salaam everyone and Eid Mubarak!
The month of Ramadan is officially almost over, and the Islamic holiday (one of two – both named Eid) will likely be taking place this Friday, June 15. Here’s some information on what Eid is and how it is celebrated!
Eid-al-Fitr commemorates the end of Ramadan, with Muslims all around the world partaking in celebrations for the length of the three-day holiday. Eid begins when the first sightings of the new moon appear. As I mentioned in my Ramadan 101 post, Muslims operate on a lunar calendar and therefore dates of notable holidays are unpredictable to some extent. This means elders and community leaders are usually keeping an eye on the moon for the last ten days of Ramadan to determine when Eid will be. This year, it will likely fall on Friday, June 15 with most of the world already having decided to celebrate it that day.
There is no fasting on Eid, and no taraweeh, special prayer, the night before, since technically the holiday begins after sunset of the last fast. The day itself is full of traditions, celebrations, and a lot of food.
After the last taraweeh, two nights before Eid, my masjid usually sets off some fireworks and distributes Krispy Kreme doughnuts and sweets; I usually pass out dates to everyone I pass. This is a very bittersweet night for most people, because not only has our nightly gathering now come to an end, but the holy month of Ramadan, when everyone is on their best deen, has now come to an end.
The night before Eid, the day of the last fast, is usually spent in preparing for the next day. The women of many Muslim communities, especially South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, traditionally spend that night at ‘mehendi parties’, adorning themselves with henna, a plant-based paste which results in a reddish-brown stain on the skin in the form of a temporary tattoo, along with all of their friends and family. These parties go until late at night and the henna is usually left on until the next morning.
The morning of Eid, Muslims all around the globe wake up extra early to get ready. Everyone is required to take a ritual bath before special Eid prayers that usually take place in the mid-morning. It is tradition to wear your best fresh traditional clothes and wear accessories and perfume.
Before leaving the house for prayer, it is sunnah, or ‘the way of the prophet’, to eat an odd number of dates, or another sweet. My mom usually makes sheer khurma, a sweet vermicelli pudding made with milk, a dish that originates from South Asia. But every household is different. Ahmad Ali Akbar, host of podcast See Something Say Something, recently tweeted a question asking his followers what their Eid morning traditions were, and the responses to his thread were filled with different family traditions that show the diversity and beauty of the Ummah.
Eid prayers usually take place at mosques or convention halls, depending on the size of the Muslim community at a specific location. On the way to the prayers, Muslims recite the takbeerat, which is a special dua praising God. At the prayer, the community recited the takbeerat together and the imam gives a special sermon. After the prayers have ended, everyone hugs and greets each other, wishing each other Eid Mubarak. And thus the celebrations begin.
People exchange gifts, not unlike Christmas, and kids line up to get their Eidie, or money, from their elders, and candy is distributed to the younger children. After the prayer, people head home before going off to party with their friends and family, or visit the graveyard to pay their respects to their dead. It is sunnah to take a different route back home from Eid prayer than you took going to the prayer.
Attending multiple parties on the day of Eid is not unheard of, with parties usually being open invitation and lasting all-day long so you can come and go as you please. These parties go all out, with catered food, hundreds of people, and decorations. Everyone has a good time. Since Eid lasts three days, parties are thrown throughout the holiday.
But Eid isn’t just about partying. It’s about family and community and charity. Every Muslim household is required to give zakat-al-fitr, or a specific amount of money based on their income, to charity if they are able to. This money is distributed to the poor before Eid to ensure that they are able to celebrate along with the rest of the Ummah.
Eid-al-Fitr looks different across the world, but no matter where it is spent, the feelings of community and togetherness are in the air.
May Allah swt shower blessings on you and your family this Eid. Ameen, and Eid Mubarak!
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