‘Eid al Fitr and the Departure of an Old Friend
The end of Ramadan can be a bitter-sweet experience. On one hand there is the satisfaction that we have completed our obligation of fasting during the month and also performed many supererogatory acts of worship including taraweh prayers, recitation of the Qur’an and sadaqah (charity). On the other hand, we will miss the high state of iman, the atmosphere of goodness and worship as well as the deficit of evil that transpired from the chaining of demons during this noble month. But this is why the believers love Ramadan – they appreciate it because it only comes once a year.
The festival of Eid al-Fitr (Festival for the Opening of the Fast) helps us to get over the sadness of the departure of Ramadan. Festivals form part and parcel of the universally human need to celebrate landmarks. For us Muslims, festivals form part of our identity as well as being acts of worships in themselves. The following prophetic traditions indicate this.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Every nation has its festival, and this is your festival”. This clearly means that Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adh’ha are exclusively for the Muslims and are a distinguishing feature of our religion when compared with others. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Madinah and the people had two days when they would partake in amusements. He said, ‘What are these two days?’ They said, ‘We used to play and have fun on these days during the Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic era of ignorance). The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Allah has given you something better than them, the day of Adh’ha and the day of Fitr.’”
What is interesting about this hadith is that there is no discussion as to whether the festivals celebrated were related to religious beliefs or if they were merely cultural. The scholars of Islam have ruled that this means that the hadith applies generally to all festivals in that Muslims are only allowed to celebrate these two anniversaries.
The Eid Prayer
There is a difference of opinion amongst Muslim scholars about the obligation of performing the Eid prayer. Some say it is obligatory and others say it is strongly recommended. Either way, the Muslim should be keen to follow his or her Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in acts of worship especially as he never missed Eid prayers. Not to mention the goodness, blessings and reward in the Hereafter for the ones who perform them.
The majority of scholars say that the time for the Eid prayer starts when the sun has risen above the height of a spear, as seen by the naked eye, and continues until the sun is approaching its zenith. It needs to be performed in congregation and can be performed in a mosque although it is Sunnah and better to pray it in an open public outdoor area as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did so except in cases of wet weather.
As for the description of the Eid prayer, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The prayer of Eid and al-Adha is two complete rak’ahs; not shortened. This is according to the words of your Prophet, and the liar is doomed.”
Abu Sa’id said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to come out to the prayer-place on the day of Fitr and al-Adh’ha, and the first thing he would do was the prayer.”
The Takbir is repeated seven times in the first rak’ah and five times in the second, a portion of the Qur’an is to be recited after each set of takbirat. There is a difference of opinion amongst the scholars regarding the number of takbirs as well as when they are performed in the prayer but this seems to be the stronger opinion in light of the fact that it was reported from A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Takbir of al-Fitr and al-Adh’ha is seven in the first rak’ah and five in the second, apart from the takbir of ruku’.
The khutbah (sermon) is given after the prayer on ‘Eid in contrast to al-Jumu’ah where the khutbah is given before the prayer. Ibn ‘Abbas testified that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed before the khutbah on ‘Eid as is reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad.
However it is not obligatory to attend the khutbah. ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Sa’ib narrated: “I attended ‘Eid with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and when he finished the prayer, he said: “We will give the khutbah, so whoever wants to sit (and listen to) the khutbah, let him sit, and whoever wants to leave, let him go.’”
As for someone staying for the khutbah, then they should observe the etiquettes similar to that of listening to the Friday khutbah and should not disturb anyone by talking to them as this is forbidden.
The etiquettes of Eid al Fitr:
It is recommended to perform ghusl (ritual bath) before going to the prayer. It has been authentically reported in Imam Malik’s Muwatta’ and elsewhere that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar used to take a ghusl on the day of Eid al-Fitr before coming to the place of prayer.
- It is recommended to eat an odd number of dates before leaving one’s house for the prayer. Anas ibn Malik said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would not go out on the morning of Eid al-Fitr until he had eaten some dates… and he would eat an odd number.” One can also eat something else by way of breakfast but an odd number of dates in more recommended.
- It is recommended for men to wear their best clothes for the ‘Eid prayer. Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had a long outer garment that he would wear on Eid and on Fridays.” Al-Bayhaqi reported that Ibn ‘Umar used to wear his best clothes on Eid. Women can wear their finest clothes as long as they are covered by complete hijab in the presence or view of non-mahram men.
- To go out to prayer by one route and to return by another. Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to vary his routes on the day of Eid. It was also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to go out walking, and he prayed without the adhan or the iqamah, then he would come back walking by a different route. It was said that this was so that the two different routes would testify in his favour on the Day of Resurrection, because on that Day the earth will speak about everything that was done on it, good and evil. It was also said that this was done in order to demonstrate the symbols and rituals of Islam along both routes; to pronounce the remembrance of Allah; to annoy the hypocrites and to scare them by the number of people who were with him; to meet the people’s needs by giving fatwas, teaching them and setting an example for them to follow; to give charity to those in need; or to visit his relatives and uphold the ties of kinship.
- Performing the takbir; Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And (He wants) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks.”
- Al-Walid ibn Muslim said: “I asked al-Awza’i and Malik ibn Anas about saying takbir aloud on Eid. They said, ‘Yes, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar used to say it aloud on the day of Fitr until the imam came out.’” The time for making takbir on Eid al-Fitr starts from the night of Eid until the time when the imam comes in to lead the prayer.
- People may exchange congratulations and good greetings on Eid, no matter what form the words take. For example they may say to one another, “Taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum (May Allah accept [the fast and worship] from us and from you” or “Eid Mubarak” and other similar permissible greetings. Jubayr ibn Nufayr said: “At the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), when people met one another on the day of Eid, they would say, ‘Taqabbal Allahu minna wa minka (May Allah accept from us and from you).’”
Notes: this article was originally post of 12/08/2012