Eid ul-Fitr, Ramadanâ€™s sweet ending
The end of Ramadan is in the neighborhood again. By observance of the new moon, Muslims all over the world mark the end of the fasting period through a celebratory feast named Eid ul-Fitr.
The feast also ushers in Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar.
For Muslims, it not only signals the breaking of the fast, but also signifies the attainment of religious virtue, characterized by sacrifice, self-discipline and acts of charity.
On the day of the celebration, a typical Muslim family gets up very early and attends special prayers held only for the occasion in big mosques, large open areas, stadiums or arenas where thousands of people can gather.
The festivities and merriment start after the prayers with visits to the homes of friends and relatives and thanking the Creator for all blessings.
Special sweets and special meal are prepared and shared and the phrase "Eid-e-Fetr Mubarak" is exchanged which means "Have a happy and blessed Eid".
However, it is an opportunity to come together as a community and to renew friendship and family ties. This is a time for peace for all Muslims in the world to devote to prayers and mutual well-being.
On this day fetrieh must be paid to the needy. It is money that every Muslim pays to the poor and is equal to the sum of the cost of a meal for every member of the family. In the time of the Holy Prophet Mohammad, fetrieh was used to free slaves from their masters. As slaves became free, they helped to free other slaves.
Time of forgiveness
According to experts, fasting is not regarded as a means of calming God's wrath or paying for sins, the purpose of fasting is to train oneself self-discipline, self control, and obedience to God's commands.
On the other hand, Ramadan is not only the month of fasting but also the month of spiritual healing. The practice of fasting includes abstaining from all food, drink, tobacco, chewing gum throughout the duration of fasting. In addition, one refrains from arguing, fighting, lying, speaking ill of others, and restrains the tongue and temper.
This is a period to resolve past arguments, a time of forgiveness, and a time of giving to charity.
Fasting is the responsibility of all Muslims after puberty except; sick people, those who are traveling, children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, women during menstruation and up to forty days following childbirth, very old people, and the insane.
If one misses fasting during Ramadan because of their condition, one can make it up before the beginning of the next Ramadan. If fasting is hazardous to one's health permanently, one can instead give a total equivalent of one meal for each day to the poor. Old people and insane people are permanently exempt from fasting.
Ramadan throughout the seasons
The lunar calendar is used for observance of Ramadan. A lunar calendar utilizes the moon instead of the sun to find out when a new lunar month starts. All months are either twenty nine or thirty days long.
In a lunar calendar, any given date falls ten days earlier each year (eleven days in a leap year) than the previous year. Therefore, Ramadan as well as other months rotates throughout the seasons, year after year. In about thirty three years, the cycle of twelve months is completed so Ramadan falls during all the seasons.