On the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is celebrated. For Muslims this is the month when the Quran was revealed, according to their beliefs.
There are Five Pillars of Islam and fasting, called “sawm” in Arabic, which is done during the month of Ramadan, is the third of these pillars. During the Ramadan month, from dawn until sunset, the Muslims do their fasting for they believe the ritual helps them to develop self-control, gives them a sense of peace and helps them to empathize with the starvation and suffering endured by other people.
After the month-long fasting is the Shawwal, which is the first day of the following month. This is celebration time, which is often called Eid al-Fitr or the Festival of Breaking Fast.
Islamic festivals follow the Islamic lunar calendar. For them the months normally begin when the first crescent of the new moon is seen in the skies. Their particular calendar is shorter than the solar year by 11 to 12 days and the addition of a leap year (intercalation) is not observed, that is why the dates for the observance of Ramadan is changeable. An interesting thing about their Islamic calendar is that sunset is the start of an Islamic day.
It has been announced that the Eid al-Fitr has been set and Muslims around the world are rejoicing as this signals the end of Ramadan’s month-long fasting and the start of the Eid al-Fitr. The date for the celebration may differ depending on where our Muslim brothers are located, but generally it will be on Thursday, August 8. This is the first day of the Shawwal, which is the 10th month of their lunar calendar.
Eid al-Fitr, which is also called Eid or Eid ul-Fitr, is the world’s biggest Islamic celebration. It is the day to give thanks to God for the gift of fasting during the Ramadan. Following the Sunnah (practices of Prophet Muhammad), Muslims will be waking up early on this day and the pre-dawn prayer or Salat ul-Fajr will be recited. They will then brush their teeth, take a bath and put on perfume. After breakfast there will be special congregational prayers, the Salaat al-Eid. Most of them will also be reciting a declaration of faith, which in Arabic is called “takbir” as they make their way towards the prayer grounds. They will also be giving their special Zakat al-Fitr or charitable contributions.
This day is an occasion that calls for thanksgiving and wondrous gaiety. For our Muslim brothers, this is the time for a gathering with family and friends. It is like Christmas and New Year combined, with their houses decorated and lighted, gifts are exchanged, new clothes are worn and sweet delicacies eaten.
To our Muslim brothers and sisters,
“Have a blessed Eid,”
which in Arabic is