SUNDAY, AUGUST 19 (and for a total of up to three days):
You will see the holiday’s name spelled many ways. Wikipedia spells it Eid ul-Fitr (and notes that other versions are widely used as well). In various countries and ethnic cultures around the world, the celebration ranges from one morning of overflowing prayers and a family dinner—to three days of festivities. On Saturday across the U.S., Muslims, journalists and community leaders watched emails drop into their inboxes from mosques and Muslim centers announcing times for Sunday morning Eid prayers.
By the sight of the crescent moon Saturday night, Muslims wrapped up the strict month of Ramadan, welcoming a new day said to resemble Paradise: Eid ul-Fitr. Read about the official announcement for North America here. On that website, you can read more about the North American Muslim council’s declaration that Sunday is the first day of Shawwal, the lunar month that follows Ramadan in the Islamic calendar.
Better known as the Eid ul-Fitr (roughly translated as a “celebration of breaking the fast”), the first day of Shawwal is a time when the world’s billion-plus Muslims literally enjoy the fruit of their obedience. Ramadan called for no food or drink during daytime hours and strict obedience of Islamic law, performed in hopes of garnering a renewed relationship with Allah. Parallel to the belief that a faithful life will lead to eternity in Paradise, those who observed Ramadan celebrate today by feasting and visiting family and friends. (Looking for recipes? Check out some from the Washington Post.) A hadith describes Muhammad as instituting Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha solely for joy—a time when the only requirement is to enjoy festivities.
Please enjoy our earlier Beauty of Ramadan column for more about this season.
The very fabric of Eid calls communities together: After all, it’s prohibited for Muslims to offer prayer alone today. Upon rising before dawn, devotees bathe, clean their teeth and don new clothing—all by tradition of Muhammad—and eat a small, sweet breakfast. (Wikipedia has details.) After an obligatory act of charity (Zakat), it’s off to community-wide Eid prayers. Congregations of Muslims can be seen praying in fields, community centers and large mosques, and following prayer, the sense of unity continues with parties held in rented halls and large centers. (A Times of India article explains the community concept of Eid.) In some regions, Eid events last several days.
NEW YORKER’S ROLLO ROMIG WRITES ABOUT HIS FIRST FAST
Have you discovered the columns of the New Yorker’s Rollo Romig? In a new column on Ramadan, Rollo writes about his experience as a “Ramadan Rookie.” As he explains in the piece, he married a Muslim woman and converted to the faith. As a pretty much secular New Yorker, Rollo has a fresh take on this process. Rather than finding a pathway into “religion” from some generally “spiritual” yearnings—Rollo writes that it is in practicing religious traditions that he discovers more about his interior life.
NOTE ON THE PHOTO AT TOP TODAY: The Istiqlal Mosque is the largest mosque in southeast Asia. Located in Jakarta, Indonesia, tourists to Jakarta are routinely shown through the beautiful landmark—with its sleek silver-colored interior and its grand outdoor prayer plazas with graceful arches. But, most tourists experience the Istiqlal Mosque as a vast, empty space. Not so at Eid ul-Fitr! The photo above was taken at last year’s Eid ul-Fitr when the enormous multi-tiered mosque is packed to capacity—and praying families spill across the huge outdoor courtyards as well.