Eid-al-Fitr and its meaning…

By Alisha Roberts

As-Salaam-Alaikuum (peace be upon you)!

As most of us are aware, Muslims throughout the world will be celebrating the festival of Eid-al-Fitr this weekend, but what exactly is being celebrated? Eid-al-Fitr, which means “festival of the breaking of the fast”, marks the end of Ramadan where Muslims would have fasted from food and drink from dusk to dawn for a period of thirty days. For Muslims, fasting is considered as an act of worship and comprises one of the five pillars of Islam. The holy month of Ramadan provides the opportunity for one to develop their imaan (faith) and become closer to God.

Ramadan commemorates the time when the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, was first revealed to the Prophet Muhmmad (peace be upon him) by the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) in the Holy City. The night of revelation, known as “Laylat al-Qadr” (Night of Power) is believed to have been on the 27th night of Ramadan and is the most important night of the Holy Month, where many Muslims spend the entire night in prayer. It is believed that if one executes any acts of goodwill on this night, they reap the rewards of having performed a good deed for a thousand months.

Muslims follow a lunar calendar and Eid-al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the calendar. This means that the timing of Eid-al-Fitr and Ramadan is different each year as it is based on the lunar cycle. The festival does not begin until the new moon is seen, therefore Eid-al-Fitr starts at different times for Muslims around the world. Some Muslims choose to celebrate when the new moon first appears over the Holy City of Mecca, however in Trinidad and Tobago, the date of Eid-al-Fitr is announced when the new moon is seen within the Caribbean region.

On the day itself, Muslims partake in a special morning prayer known as “Eid Salah” at their local masjid (mosque). It is common for Muslims to greet each other with the phrase “Eid Mubarak” which means “Blessed Eid” and exchange pleasantries. Celebrations include visiting friends and family, giving presents and wearing new clothes. In Trinidad and Tobago, it is customary for Muslims to prepare a variety of sweets such as kurma and sawine and share them among their community.

This festival is also a reminder for Muslims to be grateful for their blessings as well as help the less fortunate in the form of almsgiving. This is known as zakat, another pillar of Islam and is a requirement that all Muslims, with the means to do so, to donate to the less fortunate. Zakat helps ensure that all persons can afford to participate in the festivities. In Trinidad and Tobago, many mosques invite those less fortunate to partake in a big feast on the day.

Eid-al-Fitr is a time of gratitude, happiness and peace. It allows us to reflect on our blessings while promoting togetherness among communities. In Trinidad and Tobago, Eid-al-Fitr celebrations are not only limited to the Muslim population as many persons from different religions join with their Muslim brothers and sisters on this day in unity and harmony.

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