All you wanted to know about Eid-The main Muslim festival

Eid the Muslim Festival
Written by Alan Win


Eid meaning- The word ‘Eid’ has an Arabic origin. It means ‘feast, festival, holiday, happiness’. This word ‘Eid’, however, means a festivity.  Eid is the most awaited festival for around 1.6 billion Muslims all over the world. Muslims around the globe celebrate this festval.

Eid- The muslim festival
Eid- The muslim festival


While talking about Eid lets us also know that there is more than one type of Eid. According to the Islamic scriptures, Eid is mainly of 3 types, viz., Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha, and Eid ul Milad. Friday is the –‘Eid of the week’!

EID UL FITR- Why is it celebrated?

Fitr- is the word which comes from the word iftar i.e., breaking the fast. Fitr denotes the end of the blessed fasting month- Ramadan-ul-Mubarak. Ramadan Mubarak when translated, means either ‘Happy Ramadan’ or ‘blessed Ramadan’. Ramadan is the holy month of fasting, benevolence, sacrifice, and devoutness. This is the month of self-training. The potentials developed in this month has an effect afterward as well and stay all year long. It is evident that certainly, this spirit of fasting is divine. However, this benevolent month also deals in a number of settlements for both our mind and body.

Who was the first to celebrate Eid ul Fitr?

Scholars observed that the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings upon him) first celebrated Eid al-Fitr in the year 624 CE. Ramadan -the ninth month of the lunar calendar. The Holy Qu’ran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad(peace and blessings upon him) in this month of Ramadan. Hence, this is how the fasting during this month is obligatory to the believers. The companions of prophet also had a decisive victory at the battle-  Jang-e-Badr during this month. The Eid celebration directly linked marks the end of RAMADAN celebration i.e., breaking of fasting month.

According to the Islamic i.e., Hijri calendar eid lies on the first day of the lunar month Shawwal. The lunar calendar is based on the movements of the moon around the earth. Hence, a lunar year has a total of 354 days when compared to a solar year which has 365.25 days. There are twelve lunar months, and each month has 29 or 30 days. So, at the end of the Ramadan month, The month of Shawwal begins. A new crescent moon in the sky marks the beginning of this new month. Because the lunar year loses 11 days when compared to the Gregorian solar year, the lunar month always shifts forward 11 days each year. Therefore be it Ramadan, Shawwal or any other Islamic lunar month, all shift forward 11 days every following year.

The significance of Eid ul Fitr

  • Muslims celebrate the fact that the Almighty, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, may accept their deeds and reward them.

“…that you should complete the number [of fasting days] and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks.” (Quran: 2:185)
It would be wrong to observe that believers celebrate the fact that they do not have to fast anymore. The passing of the great spiritual month of Ramadan saddens Muslims. Furthermore, Muslims celebrate because God has asked them to participate in and complete the month of spiritual reflection and fasting. Eid ul Fitr is a joyous occasion to thank Allah for giving them the power and opportunity to please Him, end the month with a better sense of Taqwa (the fear of Allah), fortitude, make the most out of his blessings, and spiritual awareness, and cleansing of the inner-self(Nafs).

  • The sayings of Prophet, “The fasting of the month of Ramadan will hang between earth and heavens and it will not be accepted by the Divine God without paying the Zakat al-Fitr.”

The Donation- sadaqah ul-Fitr or Zakat al-Fitr (charity of fast-breaking). People give food also like donation of Fitr. Muslims give it to ensure that unwealthy and poor are also able to enjoy a good festive meal and celebration just like others. The Prophet Muhammad(peace and blessings upon him) set the amount of the alms or donation himself, as equal to one measure of sadaqah al Fitr equivalent to 2.5 kilograms (5 pounds) of wheat per person. The senior member or the head of the household is responsible for paying the total amount of donation for the family.

The Practices on the day of Eid ul Fitr

People wear new and best clothes on this festive day. Children get special attention on this day. Elders give money to their youngers, which is ‘Eidi’. The beloved Prophet first gave the Eidi to his younger. People visit relatives and friends, give gifts, also visit the graveyards. They prepare and serve sweet savories. ‘Sewain’ is the most popular dessert. This is an important part of Eid celebration. Muslims also prepare many more lavish meals for guests and family members.

The Sunnah (as done by the Prophet) to practice on Eid ul Fitr

  • Take a bath(Ghusl)
  • Wear your best clothes-Eid dress. Men should apply perfumes.
  • Every Muslim family has to give a defined amount as the donation to the needy- Zakat al Fitr.
  • Have an odd number of dates before leaving for Eid prayer(Men have to perform the Eid prayer). If there are no dates any food will do.
  • Go to the Eid prayer.
  • Say Takbir(Allaah is Most Great, Allaah is most Great, Allah is most Great there is no god but Allaah, Allaah is most great, Allaah is most great, and to Allaah be praise” this is proven from Ibn Mas‘ood (may Allah be pleased with him)) from the morning till the Imam(head of the masjid) starts the Eid prayer(namaz).
  • Greet one another with sweet and good greetings(like- ‘Eid Mubarak’ or ‘blessed Eid’).
    Take a different path to reach home than the one you took to come to the masjid for prayer ground.

EID UL ADHA- What is Eid al Adha?

Adha is an Arabic word‎, which translates as ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’. Hence, the name ‘Festival of Sacrifice’, is one of the biggest Islamic holidays. Muslims celebrate it worldwide every year. It falls on the tenth day of Zil-Hijjah, the twelfth month of Islamic lunar year. The obligatory pilgrimage for Muslims also takes place in the same month. Hajj- is the compulsory pilgrimage, once in a lifetime, for all Muslims who can afford.

Eid ul Adha in the history of Islam

According to the history of Islam, that, the Prophet Ibrahim(stated as Abraham in the Bible) was asked to sacrifice his most dear and beloved thing for God. So, he donated all his money, his precious things, animals for the sake to please God. Then, at last, he was ready to sacrifice his dearest possession,  Ismail -his only son. So, the prophet Ibrahim started to do preparation in order to submit to the will of God. During this process, Shaitan (the Devil) tried to tempt him and his family from obeying God’s command and tried to dissuade them. Ibrahim drove Shaitan(the devil), threw pebbles at it.

Hence, in commemoration of the family’s rejection of Shaitan(the devil), people throw stones at symbolic pillars during the ‘Stoning of the Devil’ in Hajj rites. These lie at the very locations where the devil tried to dissuade.  Prophet Ibrahim closed his eyes and cut his son’s throat on Mount Arafat. Later he unties the cloth from his eyes, and to his surprise, he sees his son smiling at him. Instead, he found a slaughtered animal(a kind of goat). Prophet Ibrahim passed God’s test. Angels replaced Ismail by that animal obeying God’s command.

This story lies as the Akedah in Judaism and originates in the Tora, the first book of Musa (Genesis, Ch. 22). Also, The Quran mentions it as follows: Quran, sura 37 (Aṣ-Ṣāffāt), āyāt 100–112.

Eid al Adha observances- practices

  • Commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son in obedience of the command from Allah, the God.
  • The end of the annual Hajj(pilgrimage) to Mecca.
  • Eid prayers,
  • Animal sacrifice,
  • Charity,
  • Some mutual gatherings,
  • festive foods,
  • gift-giving-Eidi

All the sunnah practices are the same as Eid ul Fitr apart from the animal sacrifice(Commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son).

Eid ul Milad/Mawlid-Meaning

Mawlid/Milad is from the Arabic root word (Arabic: ولد‎), which mean ‘to give birth’, ‘bear a child or descendant’. According to contemporary usage, Mawlid refers to- observance of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad(peace and blessings upon him). The term Milad or Mawlid also refers to ‘any text composed for and recited especially at Muhammad’s nativity celebration’ or ‘any text recited or sung on that day’.
It falls on the twelfth day of Rabi’ al-awwal, the third month in the lunar Islamic calendar.

History of Eid ul Mawlid/Milad

The history of this celebration is found from the early days of Islam when some of the companions of Prophet began to hold sessions. According to history, poetry was composed to honor of Prophet Muhammad and also were recited to the crowds. In 1588, the Ottomans declared it as an official holiday- Mevlid Kandil.

Although, most of the denominations of Islam highly approve of the commemoration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. However, some other denominations including Deobandism and Wahhabism/Salafism disapprove its commemoration. They consider it an unnecessary ritual. Majority Muslim countries of the world except for Saudi Arabia and Qatar( they are officially Salafi/Wahhabi) Eid ul Mawlid is recognized as a national holiday.

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Alan Win

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