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Encyclopedia

Eid al-Fitr

Wednesday 13/June/2018 - 12:28 PM
Sada El Balad
Eid al-Fitr is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan، the Islamic holy month of fasting. This religious Eid (Muslim religious festival) is the first and only day in the month of Shawwal during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid، therefore، falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on when the new moon is sighted by local religious authorities، so the exact day of celebration varies by locality.

Eid al-Fitr has a particular salat (Islamic prayer) consisting of two rakats (units) and generally offered in an open field or large hall. It may be performed only in congregation (Jama’at) and has an additional extra six Takbirs (raising of the hands to the ears while saying "Allāhu Akbar" which means "God is the greatest")، three of them in the beginning of the first raka'ah and three of them just before ruku' in the second raka'ah in the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam. Other Sunni schools usually have twelve Takbirs، seven in the first، and five at the beginning of the second raka'ah. According to Shia Islam، it has 6 Takbirs in the first Rakat at the end of qira'a، before ruku`، and 5 in the second.[4] This Eid al-Fitr salat is، depending on which juristic opinion is followed، Fard (obligatory)، Mustahabb (strongly recommended، just short of obligatory) or Mandoob (preferable).

Muslims believe that they are commanded by Allah، as mentioned in the Quran، to continue their fast until the last day of Ramadan and pay the Zakat al-Fitr before offering the Eid prayers.

Practices by country:
Saudi Arabia:
Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with great pomp in Saudi Arabia. Saudis decorate their homes and prepare sumptuous meals for family and friends. Eid festivities in Saudi Arabia may vary culturally depending on the region، but one common thread in all celebrations is of generosity and hospitality. First، it is common Saudi tradition for families to gather at the patriarchal home after the Eid prayers. Before the special Eid meal is served، young children will line up in front of each adult family member، who dispense money as gifts to the children. Family members will also typically have a time where they will pass out gift bags to the children. These bags are often beautifully decorated and contain candies and toys.Many shopkeepers will show their generosity at Eid providing free Eid gifts with each purchase. For example، during Eid، many of the chocolate shops will give each customer who buys a selection of candies a free crystal candy dish with their purchase. In the spirit of Eid، many Saudis go out of their way to show their kindness and generosity. It is common for even complete strangers to greet one another at random، even by occupants of vehicles waiting at stop lights. Sometimes even toys and gifts will be given to children by complete strangers. It is traditional for Saudi men to go and buy large quantities of rice and other staples، and then leave them anonymously at the doors of those who are less fortunate. During Eid morning and after the Eid prayer، people in some areas of the middle of Saudi Arabia (such as Al Qassim) host large communal meals. Celebrants put large rugs on one of the streets of their neighborhood، and households prepare a large meal to be shared by all neighbors. It is common practice for people to swap places to try more than one kind of meal.

In the major cities of Saudi Arabia، every night there are huge fireworks shows.

Egypt:
Eid al-Fitr is a three-day feast and an official holiday in Egypt with vacations for schools، universities and government offices. Some stores and restaurants are also closed during Eid. The Eid day starts with a small snack followed by Eid prayers in congregation attended by men، women، and children in which the sermon reminds Egyptians of the virtues and good deeds they should do unto others، even strangers، during Eid and throughout the year. Afterwards، neighbors، friends، and relatives start greeting one another. The most common greeting is "Eid Mubarak" (Blessed Eid). Family visits are considered a must on the first day of the Eid، so they have the other two days to enjoy by going to parks، cinemas، theatres or the beaches. Some like to go on tours or a Nile cruise، but Sharm El Sheikh is also considered a favorite spot for spending holidays in Egypt.Children are normally given new clothes to wear throughout the Eid. Also، women (particularly mothers، wives، sisters and daughters) are commonly given special gifts by their loved ones. It is customary for children to also receive a Eid-ey-yah from their adult relatives. This is a small sum of money that the children receive and is used to spend on all their activities throughout the Eid. Children will wear their new clothes and go out to amusement parks، gardens or public courtyards based on how much their Eidyah affords. The amusement parks can range from the huge ones on the outskirts of Cairo-Nile، Felucca Nile rides is one common feature of Eid celebration in Egyptian villages، towns and cities. The families gatherings involve cooking and eating all kinds of Egyptian food like Fata، but the items most associated with Eid al-Fitr are Ka'ak (singular = Kahka)، which are cookies filled with nuts and covered with powdered sugar. Egyptians either bake it at home or buy it in the bakery. Thus، a bakery crowded in the last few days of Ramadan with Kahk buyers is a common scene. TV in Egypt celebrates Eid too، with a continuous marathon of movies as well as programmes featuring live interviews from all over Egypt of both public figures and everyday citizens، sharing their Eid celebrations. For a lot of families from working neighbourhoods، the Eid celebration also means small mobile neighbourhood rides، much like a neighbourhood carnival. In a lot of neighbourhood courtyards، kids also gather around a storyteller، a puppeteer or a magician mesmerised by Egyptian folktales or by a grownup's sleight of hand. It is also customary for kids to rent decorated bikes to ride around town.

Egyptians like to celebrate with others so the streets are always crowded during the days and nights of Eid.

Tunisia:
Since 2012، Tunisia sees three days of celebration، with only 2 days as a national holiday (1st Eid and second Eid)، with preparations starting several days earlier. Special biscuits are made to give to friends and relatives on the day، including Baklawa and several kinds of "ka'ak". Men will go to the mosque early in the morning، while the women will either go with them or stay in and prepare for the celebration by putting together new outfits and toys for their children، as well as a big family lunch generally held at one of the parents' homes. During the daylight hours، there may be dancing and music، but the feasting lasts all day long، and many gifts are a large part of tradition. Also، food is the centre of this holiday، so this is one of the highlights of the evening. Different members of a family visit each other. Usually، children accompany their father and visit aunts، uncles، grandparents and friends to congratulate them on the Eid. They will be offered drinks and special cookies. Women will stay at home with some of the children in order to welcome members of the family that come to visit and congratulate for the end of the fasting.

Sudan:
In Sudan، where 97% of the population is Muslim، preparations for Eid begin the last couple of days in Ramadan. For days، ka'ak (sugar powdered cookies)، bettifour (dry baked goods including dainty biscuits، baked meringues and macaroons – whose name are derived from the French petit four) and popcorn are baked in large batches to serve to guests and to give to family and friends; dressy Eid clothes are either shopped for or sewn; girls and women decorate their hands and feet with henna; and parts of the house may even be painted. The night before Eid، the whole household partakes in cleaning the house and yard and setting out the finest bedsheets، table cloths، and decorations. On the day of Eid، men and boys (and occasionally women and girls) will attend the Eid prayer. For the next 3 days، families will then partake in visiting each other، extended family، neighbours، and close friends. In these short visits، the baked goods، chocolates and sweets are served، and often large lunches are prepared for the visiting well-wishers. Children are given gifts، either in the form of toys or money.


Edited by Rasha Mohamed

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