EID: A Day of Peace and Moral Victory.

2012-08-17 09:01

After a month of deep introspection, fasting and subjugating oneself to Almighty God and praying for forgiveness, insight, wisdom, and purity from sins, Eidul-Fitr arrives in the month of Shawwal with much joy and festivity. According to the teachings of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) the first day of the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Eidul-Fitr, is observed or celebrated. Eidul-Fitr is one of the two major festivals of the Muslims.

It is a religio-spiritual occasion and its only connection is with the holy month of Ramadan, heralding the end of a month of fasting. In South Africa, Muslims will look for the new moon on Saturday evening. The new crescent moon signifies the culmination of the blessed month of Ramadan, the start of Eidul –Fitr and to begin the months of Hajj- pilgrimage to Makkah.

The Eidul-Fitr festivities start in the early hours of the morning with communal and congregational prayers. The main Eid prayers, after sunrise, depending on the weather, are generally held in an open ground outside the City. After the Prayer, the Imam (leader of the Prayer) delivers a short sermon in Arabic and thereafter the worshippers meet and greet each other and disperse. The rest of the day is generally spent with family and friends. Before the day of Eid or Eidul- Fitr prayers a charity known as Sadaqat-ul-Fitr should be paid to the poor. The motive behind this act is to purify the fast and to enable the underprivileged and less fortunate to also enjoy the day of Eid. Sadaqat-ul-Fitr is an obligatory charity on every Muslim who possesses the minimum amount of wealth. Generally the father pays for the entire family including children.

The significance of Eidul-Fitr is that it is a day of thanksgiving to the Almighty for giving the opportunity to Muslims to spiritually benefit from and enjoy the blessings of the month of Ramadan. This day, in the Muslim homes, brings rejoicing and happiness. The contentment is not, however, at the departure of the month of Ramadan; it is the satisfaction which human beings feel after effectively carrying out an essential and empowering worship.

We dress in our best clothes, not necessarily new, and go for the Eidul- Fitr prayers, meet our loved ones and friends, exchange greetings and good wishes, enjoy delicious food and sweets, exchange gifts with our children, families and friends, and feel overjoyed on this day. We should remember, however, that there are millions of people who do not have shelter, jobs, food, water or clothes, that millions of human beings in different parts of the World are deprived of the bounties and graces we enjoy- the orphans and widows, communities living under occupation and the innocent captives being held indefinitely in prisons all over the world.

Moreover, great challenges are facing the Muslim community all around the globe. Some communities and individuals are grossly suffering under the oppression of their governing regimes, tyrants and authoritarian rulers; the sad state of affairs in Burma, (Myanmar), Kashmir, Chechnya, Syria, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan is further declining; the so-called Arab Spring countries still face huge challenges, and their new governments are yet to deliver on their promises.

We are all passing through uncertain times. The drama of personality clashes, greed, individualism and power politics that are destroying our organisations and communities, the pain and suffering that is being witnessed in Somalia, Darfur, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), etc should serve as an eye-opener for us. We need to become politically energetic and mature in order to ensure we in South Africa preserve and maintain the same aspirations and rights that others are crying and dying for.

The spiritual discipline and piety that is cultivated over the month of Ramadan should be cherished and extended into our lives even after the blessed month of Ramadan. As South Africans, we cannot ignore that we have been blessed with religious freedom and comforts that so many of our brothers and sisters in faith around the globe can only think and imagine of. May the Almighty help us to remember them always in our prayers and in our actions?

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