Art & Culture
Ramadan and Eid in Islam
By Nidha Dar and Mairaab Jahangir
Volume 1 Issue 8
June 8, 2021
Image provided by India TV
Have you ever seen or heard Eid and Ramadan greetings and wondered what they are all about? Why do Muslims celebrate Eid and Ramadan and when do they do so? What is the Muslim way of celebrating Eid and Ramadan? These are only a few questions out of a plethora that many people typically have about the Islamic month and holidays. In this article, we will be explaining a bit about both Eid and Ramadan.
To begin, it is almost necessary to start with Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and occurs when the new crescent moon is first sighted. Because the Islamic calendar is based on the phases of the moon, Ramadan goes back approximately 10-11 days each year. Ramadan mainly holds significance in Islam because it is regarded as the time when the Quran was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him). Additionally - it is a time of year when Muslims overall truly acknowledge the blessings that they have, and overall thank Allah for them.
During Ramadan, it has been taught to Muslims through the actions of the prophet to fast for 30 days from sunrise to sunset, and fasting being one of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting includes abstinence from drinking, eating, immoral activities, and rage. Other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran, and charitable giving are encouraged during this time.
During the month, Muslims rise early almost every day to eat suhoor, a pre-dawn meal, and break their fast with iftar, a meal occurring at sunset. Not all Muslims are required to fast though - children, the elderly, those who are pregnant, those who are menstruating and those who have medical related health problems are exempt from fasting. If a person cannot fast, it is recommended that they make up their fast later in time, but if they cannot, they can make charitable payments known as fidya or kaffara. These help to provide to those who are less fortunate with a meal to sustain them for a day, which in turn is equivalent in action to fasting.
Eid directly translates from Arabic into English as the festival or feast. In a typical Islamic year, there are two major Eids, Eid al-Fitr earlier in the year (in the Islamic month of Shawwal) and Eid al-Adha later on in the year (in the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah). Both are extremely important holidays in the religion of Islam, both with their respective and differing purposes.
Eid al-Fitr simply means "the festival of breaking the fast", and is usually a three-day lasting celebration with special morning prayers. People exchange ceremonial embraces and greet one another with the phrase "Eid Mubarak," which translates as "Blessed festival." Meals are prepared at home, and gifts or money are given to younger members of the family and those in need. People will typically dress in their very best clothing, usually of their own cultural background. Muslims are taught to forgive and to seek forgiveness during these days. Practices on the days of Eid-al-Fitr vary from country to country, culture to culture, and even household to household.
The other Eid, Eid al-Adha, is known as the "Festival of Sacrifice." It comes at the end of the Hajj, a pilgrimage that millions of Muslims undertake (if they are able to afford it) to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia (Hajj is also one of the five pillars of Islam). Eid al-Adha commemorates Allah's command to Ibrahim (may peace be upon him) to sacrifice his son Ismail (may peace be upon him) as a testament of his faith. The story, as told in the Quran, depicts Shaytaan or Satan’s attempt to tempt Ibrahim (may peace be upon him) into disobeying Allah's command. Ibrahim (may peace be upon him), on the other hand, remains dedicated to his actions and informs Ismail (may peace be upon him), who agrees to be sacrificed. But, just as Ibrahim (may peace be upon him) is about to slaughter his child, Allah intervenes and a sheep is sacrificed in his place.
Muslims slaughter an animal during Eid al-Adha to remember Ibrahim’s (may peace be upon him) sacrifice and to remind themselves of the need to submit to Allah's will. Most of the meat from this Eid is donated to those less fortunate, or given to local family friends. A small portion of the meat is kept to the family who paid for the animal, mainly as a token of charity. On this Eid people wear their best clothing as well, and spend time with family.
Both Eid and Ramadan prove to be pivotal times in Islam. With the variety of culture in the United States, more and more people are learning about what they are, and further educating themselves about Islam. As of two years ago, the Valley Stream schools close for Eid.
May everyone who celebrated Eid and Ramadan have had a pleasant time, and for those who didn’t, we hope you learned a little bit about Eid and Ramadan.