On the evening of May 1st Muslims around the world will scan the horizon with their naked eyes, or through a binocular searching for the birth of the new moon—the moon of Shawwal which is the tenth month in the Islamic calendar. In every community around the globe, there will be the trusted moon sighters who must confirm the birth of the moon—if they see one. Those who see the moon must register their testimonies, take an oath and report to the local court. Muslim leaders then will declare the next day to be Eid-al-Fitr. Radios and televisions will spread the word to Muslims around the world with captions “Eid Mubarak.” Often followed by “Kullu am wa antum bi-khair” May you be well throughout the year. Social media sites will abuzz with the Eid activities.
Friends and family congratulate one another on finishing Ramadan successfully. Eid al-Fitr means “festival of breaking the fast.” The day begins with hugs of family members and friends. Then, the traditional greeting of ‘Eid Mubarak’ even to strangers you have never met. This day brings people together despite differences. The message is often the common goal of unity of all Muslims. Mosques will mount loudspeakers which repetitively recite takbeerat, praising God by saying “Allahu Akbar.” The Eid prayers often start between 7:30am-8am. Before that people can eat and drink coffee, tea or whatever they wish with their family members.
avorite day of the year. The day always brought a different feeling. Everyone was happy; apart from the takbeerat chants from the mosques, local radio stations also played festive Somali songs from popular Somali musicians such as Mohamed Tubeec and his unforgettable song Oh today….What a day! What a festive! I walked around the city with my friends while we sang songs and wished everyone “Eid Mubarak,” we played games including running races, soccer matches and dance competitions. This is the only day parents would let us do whatever we wanted. To me, Eid was always defined by the love and support of a community. Even if we did not have enough money to buy food for our family, the community was there to help.
Here are a few things everyone should know about Eid al-Fitr.
The Sunnah of Eid al-Fitr: Muslims are recommended to take a shower or wash their body thoroughly during the early hours of the Eid al-Fitr morning. After showering, it is also recommended that people put on some perfume or body cream that smells good. Everyone must perform ablution (Wudu) which is to wash the head, face, both arms and both legs in preparation for the morning’s prayers. This should be done after shower. Check on family members to see if everyone is doing well. Check on the neighbors, walk into their house and see if they need any support with anything. One may visit up to 10 houses as this can be defined as closest neighbors in certain communities. Parents make sure the kids are happy with their clothes. Parents will go wherever the kids decide to go. In most places this is the park, the zoo or the movie theater.
Zakat al-Fitr, the charity of the Eid al-Fitr: A Muslim must donate all the food they have in surplus. Cooked or uncooked food such as rice, beans, corn or cooking oil. And also, cash or clothes if one can afford. Eid is about cleanliness and wearing clean, new clothes. In modern days Muslims have used social media to fundraise for helping the poor among them who need to participate in Eid with new clothes and gifts to give to their family members.
The celebration of Eid al-Fitr will also be happening here in the United States, and Muslim communities will often gather outdoors for the prayers. Our newly arrived Afghan clients, many of whom have never celebrated their Eid outside of Afghanistan, will be celebrating this Eid in our cities. Here are ways you can participate to show support:
You can wish people “Eid Mubarak,” which is the common way to say it. Or “Eid sa’id,” which translates as Happy Eid. You can bring gifts to your Muslim friends. Recommended gifts include desserts such as pies, cookies, chocolate, candies or cakes. You may check with the family if they want a particular dessert. Eid al-Fitr is about sweet desserts. The next Eid which will happen two months and 10 days after this Eid will be the Eid of meat and big feast. People will share meat and cooked meals.
Abdi Iftin is the Communications Specialist, Welcoming Communities at CWS.