Source: Religion & Ethics Newsweekly:"Belief & Practice: Islamic Celebrations"
Muslims around the world end their month long observance of Ramadan with a celebration known as Eid Al-Fitr, the "Feast of Breaking the Fast." In this video from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, members of the Islamic Center of Washington, DC discuss the religious and spiritual significance of these annual religious events.
Eid al-Fitr (eed al-fitir) and Eid al-Adha (eed al-ud’ha) are the two major religious holidays Muslims celebrate during the year. The Eid al-Fitr, “Festival of Breaking the Fast,” commemorates the end of Ramadan, the month in which Muslims fast daily from dawn to sunset to develop piety and self-restraint.
The Eid al-Adha, or “Festival of the Sacrifice,” marks the end of the Hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. This Eid commemorates the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, in obedience to God and God’s mercy on Abraham by replacing Ishmael with a ram. Muslims honor this event by sacrificing an animal, usually a lamb, which is then divided among their families and the poor. In the U.S., Muslims pay a halal butcher to perform the sacrifice or they make a donation through charities. (Halal refers to the dietary practices required according to Qu’ran and tradition of the Prophet Muhammad.) The Eid al-Adha is a major religious event in the lives of Muslims. Usually, communities in the Muslim world celebrate this occasion over a period of several days.
For both holidays, Muslims dressed in their best attire begin the day with special prayers performed at large indoor or outdoor gatherings. A sermon is given after the completion of Eid prayers. Muslims then greet their fellow worshippers with “Eid Mubarak,” meaning “May your holiday be blessed.” Families visit their relatives and friends to celebrate, exchange greetings and enjoy festive meals. Children are often rewarded with gifts, money and sweets. Both holidays serve many purposes for Muslims; they commemorate important religious events, signify the ending of Ramadan and Hajj and give people a time for celebration and fun.
BOB ABERNETHY: From time to time, we look at the beliefs and practices of different religions. Today, one of the most important observances for Muslims, Ramadan, which ended this week. Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which, according to Muslim doctrine, the Qur'an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad. This year for most Muslims, Ramadan began on December 9. It's a period of daylong fasts, repentance, and spiritual introspection. We talked with members of the Islamic Center in Washington, DC, as they concluded their month-long observance of Ramadan and began Id-al-Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast.
Mr. MUHAMMAD QAISER AMIN: The fasting time starts from the dawn to dusk. Time of the sunset, you break the fast with dried grapes or some sweets or something. The Muslim people are very eager to, you know, do the fasting and -- because mandatory part of Islam, if you are not fasting, you are not a complete Muslim.
Ms. NAJLA ROBINSON: There are many benefits in the fast: spiritual benefits as well as being able to give and feel that you are giving to the needy and purifying your soul at the same time.
Ms. ISHEKEBA BECKFORD: The elements that I like is the reading of the Qur'an, the praying, the fasting. I think all of the elements really help me. It's really like this sort of -- well, not sort of, it is like a cleansing to me.
Mr. AMIN: The end of the Ramadan is the feast called Id-al-Fitr, and that's the day you dress well and you come to the mosque here to pray at 10:00, and then after that, you have sweets to share each other, then you cook the nice meals to each other, to relatives and friends. And you visit them and you give the gifts. Of course, you are supposed to be generous. It's a saying of prophets: You give gifts to each other, it creates more love.
Ms. ROBINSON: The ending of Ramadan is always very sad to me, because the Muslims during Ramadan are very, very generous toward one another because they know that it's pleasing during this time to our God. And it's -- I look forward to the next one. Each year, I look forward to the next one.
BOB ABERNETHY: That's our program for now. I'm Bob Abernethy.
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