SUNSET SUNDAY and MONDAY, JULY 27-28: Eid Mubarak! The long days of Ramadan have ended to make way for a new and triumphant day. Muslim days begin at sunset on the previous evening—so the new Islamic month begins at sunset July 27 and the festivities of Eid al-Fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast, are expected to start on the morning of Monday July 28.
Remember the global diversity in this celebration by more than a billion Muslim men, women and children. First, English spellings of the Arabic phrase Eid ul-Fitr vary. Second, the start of this holiday may also vary, based on how each regional community around the world interprets the sighting of a new moon. Finally, the length of the Eid celebration varies—perhaps as short as a single day but usually lasting two days or even longer.
Throughout the entire month of Ramadan, Muslims spent each daylight hour without food or water, restraining their worldly desires in one of the most sacred traditions of Islam. Then, the first day of the month of Shawwal brings the Eid, and Muslims are actually not permitted to fast. Grand feasts ensue, prayer is offered in congregations and in some regions, festivities last for three days. Fireworks, carnivals, gift exchanges and visits from family and friends add to the joyous revelry of Eid al-Fitr.
This grand holiday originated with the Prophet Muhammad, in what a hadith (a saying of the Prophet) describes as a declaration that the Almighty had fixed this time of festivity for Muslim celebration.
The day’s events begin early on Eid al-Fitr—before sunrise—with prayer, bathing and the donning of new clothing. A small breakfast, often of dates, is consumed before adherents head to a nearby mosque, hall or even an open field in many parts of the world. (According to Islamic tradition, Eid’s prayer may only be offered as a part of the overall Muslim community, so huge crowds show up and many mosques around the world have lines of praying Muslims spilling out the doors onto sidewalks, parking lots or fields. Wikipedia has details.)
Also a part of these celebrations is the Zakat, a traditional donation to charity. Usually, sermons instruct the faithful to ask Allah’s forgiveness and to, in return, grant forgiveness to others. When prayers are over, Muslims visit friends and family, receive visitors in their homes and attend large, communal celebrations. (Learn more from IslamiCity.)
One of the largest temporary human migrations globally is the Eid al-Fitr homecoming of Indonesian Muslims, primarily workers who typically live far from their hometowns. The travelers seek forgiveness from parents, in-laws and elders, and all join in a feast together.
IN THE NEWS:
EID TRAINS, BRITISH MUSLIMS
AND A PHOTO SLIDESHOW
Pakistan Railways announced weeks ago that it would run special Eid trains for the Eid ul-Fitr holiday in anticipation of the vast number of pilgrims making the journey to their hometowns for the holiday of Eid ul-Fitr. Train schedules are revised in many Muslim countries.
The UK’s The Guardian recently asked Muslim bloggers to share their experiences of being a Muslim in Britain today—the best and worst aspects, how it has shaped their views of Britain as a whole, etc.—and the results are in this article.
Interested in what Eid al-Fitr looks like around the world? The Huffington Post has a photo slideshow.