Bristol thanks Muhammad Hasan (CRP), Global Expense Analyst - Client Financial Services, with additional contributions from Expense Analyst Safio Mohamed, for sharing their observations and personal perspectives on the significance of Ramadan and its joyous conclusion, Eid-Ul-Fitr.
As the Muslim calendar follows the lunar cycle, Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon (which was Saturday, April 2), and the end of Ramadan is signaled when the next new moon is sighted. This year the new moon is expected to be on either Sunday 5/1 or Monday 5/2 so the Eid-Ul-Fitr could be on either of those days. Many families will gather outside together to gaze at the sky after dusk to see if they can sight the new moon!
Eid-ul-Fitr means “The feast of breaking the fast.” The fast, in this instance, is that of Ramadan, the holy month observed by Muslims, which recalls the revealing of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Eid-Ul-Fitr is a festival that is marked by joyous celebration by all practicing Muslims and is similar to Christmas, Diwali or Hanukkah holidays with family and friends getting together to celebrate, eat special foods and exchange gifts. It is often known by the abbreviated name, ‘Eid (pronounced Eed) and is a 1-3 day celebration in most Muslim countries.
Each country is different in their traditions as to how they celebrate the holiday. I grew up in Pakistan and traditionally Eid preparations would begin with shopping the night before known as 'Chaand Raat' (the night of the moon, similar to Christmas Eve). People take their children to shops to buy new clothes, girls and women will have henna applied on their hands, homes will be decorated with lights and special food will be prepared for the next day.
Safio adds: "I can confirm the Henna! Perhaps the most special activity is the buying of new outfits to wear on the day. Brand new clothes are important, along with decorating of the house, gathering to pray, eating and spending time with family and friends. I will add that before Eid, there is an important period of Ramadan called Laylat al-Qadr, which means the Night of Power. Laylat al-Qadr marks the last ten days, marking the night the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). The Night of Power is, as we say, 'better than a thousand months'!"
Charity plays a large role in Islam and while Muslims are to give in charity throughout the year, it is especially encouraged during the month of Ramadan. Prior to the end of Ramadan, it is mandatory for all Muslims to pay Zakat-Ul-Fitr. This is a charity that is given to the poor so they can celebrate Eid too. It is encouraged to pay this to the local mosque so the funds can be distributed timely to the needy local community so they too can purchase what they need and celebrate the joyous occasion.
The day's festivities begin in the morning with a special ‘Eid Prayer in congregation followed by a sermon. After Eid prayers it is tradition for people to hug and wish each other "‘Eid Mubarak" (we wish you a blessed ‘Eid).
Muhammad and Safio, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and knowledge on this global holiday of such importance. We wish you, your families and all who celebrate Eid-Ul-Fitr: Eid Mubarak! May this Eid bring peace, prosperity, health, happiness and endless blessings to all!