The Importance of Religious Festivals in Islam
with my sincere thanks and greetings to Imam Ali Siddigui
Anas (RA) reported that when the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) migrated from Makkah to Madinah, the people of Madinah used to have two festivals. On those two days they had carnivals and festivity. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) asked the Ansar (the Muslims of Madinah) about it. They replied that before Islam they used to have carnivals on those two joyous days. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) told them: ‘Instead of those two days, Allah has appointed two other days which are better, the days of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.’ (Hadith)
The root word for Eid is ‘aa-da meaning he or it returned. Literally it means “the time of return of joy and of grief”. Therefore it signifies a festival. The word Eid appeared in Sura al-Maida, Table Spread, chapter 5 meaning a solemn festival.
The Disciples of Isa (AS) requested him to pray to his Lord to send down a Table Spread with festive food to eat of it, satisfy their hear, and may be Witnesses to the miracles (Q 5:115-6). Isa (Jesus) (AS) prayed to Allah: “O Our Lord! Send us a Table Spread with festive food, that there may be for us, for the first and last of us – Eid, a solemn festival and a Sign from You; and provide for our sustenance, for You are the Best Sustainer.” (Q 5:117)
Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, at the completion of Ramadan. Shawwal is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. The Eid al-Fitr is a very joyous day; it is a true Thanksgiving Day for the believing men and women. On this day Muslims show their real joy for the health, strength and the opportunities of life, which Allah has given to them to fulfill their obligation of fasting and other good deeds during the blessed month of RAmadan.
Eid-al-Adha is celebrated on the tenth day of Zulhijjah, the 12th and the last month of the Islamic calendar. It is also very joyous day; it is a feast of self-sacrifice, commitment and obedience to Allah. It commemorates the great act of obedience to Allah by the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) in showing his willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael (AS). Allah accepted his sacrifice and replaced Prophet Ismael (AS) with a lamb. Although Hajj has no relation with the Eid-al-Adha, but the five days long rituals of Hajj are also done during this month culminating on 9th of Zdilhijjah. Many rituals of Hajj are enactment of the struggle of the family IbRAhim (as) specially his second wife HajiRAh (AS) and her son Prophet Ismael (AS).
THE SUNNAH OF EID:
Keeping with the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Muslims are encourage to prepare themselves for the occasion of Eid. Below is a list of things Muslims should do in preparation for Eid:
- Wake up early.
- Offer Salaat al-Fajr.
- Prepare for personal cleanliness take care of details of clothing, etc.
- Take a Ghusl (bath) after Fajr.
- Brush your teeth.
- Dress up, putting on best clothes available, whether new or cleaned old ones.
- Use perfume (men only).
- Have breakfast on Eid al-Fitr before leaving for prayer ground. On Eid-al-Adha, eat breakfast after Salaat or
- after sacrifice if you are doing a sacrifice.
- Pay Zakat al-Fitr before Salaat al-Eid (on Eid al-Fitr).
- Go to prayer ground early.
- Offer Salaat al-Eid in congregation in an open place except when whether is not permitting like rain, snow, etc.
- Use two separate routes to and from the prayer ground.
- Recite the following Takbir on the way to Salaat and until the beginning of Salaat al-Eid. On Eid-al-Adha, Takbir starts from Mughrib on the 9th Dhu al-hijah and last until the Asr on the 12th Dhu al-ilhijah:Allahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar. La ilaha illa-lah. Allahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar. Wa-lilahi al-hamd.(Allah is greater. Allah is greater. There is no god but one Allah. Allah is greater. Allah is greater. And all praises are for Allah).
Salaat al-Eid Before Khutbah
Ibn Abbass (RA) reported: “I participated in the Salaat Eid al-Fitr with the Messenger of Allah (SAW), Abu Bakr (RA), Umar (RA) and Uthman (RA), and all of them held Salaat al-Eid before Khutbah, and then the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) delivered the Khutbah (sermon)”. Hadith reported by Muslim
Who Should Observe Eid PRAyer
Umm Atiyah (RA) reported: ‘The Messenger of Allah (SAW) commanded us to bring out on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, young women, hijab-observing adult women and the menstruating women. The menstruating women stayed out of actual Salaat but participated in good deeds and Du’a (supplication)‘.
I (Umm Atiyah) said to the Holy Prophet (SAW): ‘O! Messenger of Allah, one does not have an outer garment.’
He replied: “Let her sister cover her with her garment.” Hadith reported by Muslim.
On the Eid day, every believing man, woman and child must go to the prayer ground and participate in this joyous occasion.
How Salaat al-Eid is Performed
Salaat al-Eid is wajib (strongly recommended, just short of obligatory). It consists of two Rukat (units) with six or thirteen additional Takbirs. It must be offered in congregation. The Salaat is followed by the Khutbah. The Khutbah is part of the worship and listening to it is Sunnah. During the Khutbah, the Imam must remind the community about its responsibilities and obligations towards Allah, fellow Muslims and the fellow human beings. The Imam must encourage the Muslims to do good and ward off evil. The Muslim community must also be directed to the state of the community and the Ummah at large and the feelings of sacrifice and struggle for Allah should be aroused in the community.
At the conclusion of the Salaat the Muslims should convey greetings to each other, give reasonable gifts to the youngsters and visit each other at their homes. Muslims should also take this opportunity to invite their non-Muslims neighbors, co-workers, classmates and business acquaintances to Eid festivities to expose them to Islam and Muslim culture.
Sacrifice and Eid al-Adha
Those who have enough wealth to pay Zakaat must offer the sacrifice for Allah. It is the tradition of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and a strongly recommended Sunnah. A lamb, sheep, goat, cow, buffalo, or camel can be offered the sacrifice. There are seven shares in a cow, buffalo and camel. The sacrifice should be accomplished by slaughtering the animal after Salaat-al-Eid. The sacrifice also called Udhiyah or Qurbani last for three days from 10th Zdilhijjah until the sunset of 12th Zdilhijjah. The meat should be divided into three shares: one for the family the second for relatives and friend and the third share is for the poor and the needy.
AS – Aly-his-salaam; Peace be upon him. Used after the names of the Prophets and Messengers of Allah.
RA – RAdia-Allahu ‘an-hu; May Allah be pleased with him/her. Used after the names of the companions and family of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
SAW – sallal-la-hu aly-he wa-sal-lum; Peace be upon him. Used after the name of the Prophet Muhammad
“Assoc. Prof. Dr. Turhan Kani Üçgün, Fethiye – Turkey,”