This year’s observation of Ramadan ended on September 20th with the Eid ul-Fitr festivities. Muslims from around the world spent the day celebrating the completion of one of the pillars of Islam. Each year, Ramadan lasts either 29 or 30 days. The beginning and end are determined in different ways. In the United States, for example, the largest Muslim organization, The Islamic Society of North America, uses calculations while many other countries depend on moon sighting. This year, there was relative consensus on Sunday.
The Eid celebrations begin with a morning communal prayer followed by a sermon. The sermon for this holiday typically revolves around fasting and the consequent spiritual growth. Because of the diversity of the Muslim worldwide community, Eid festivities are colored by cultural traditions that are most obvious after the prayer and sermon are completed.
In Madison, the Eid ul-Fitr celebrations attracted about 2000 Muslims from the surrounding area. All three mosques prayed together in the Alliant Energy Center. Coming into the hall, the most striking image was the diverse clothing. On Eid, Muslims are suppose to wear their best attire and they do! I saw clothing from India and Pakistan, Malaysia, Morocco, Sudan, Jordan, Somalia, and Indonesia.
The clothing adds to an air of celebration and regardless of whether you know someone or not, you feel compelled to greet them with “Eid Mubarak” (Have a blessed Eid). And what would Eid ul-Fitr be without food? In Madison, the ‘tradition’ is donuts, soda, and coffee! After the prayer, Muslims eat a meal together, visit each other, and spend time with friends and family.
Eid ul-Fitr marks not only the end of Ramadan but also the beginning of implementing the lessons from the fast in the rest of one’s life. After a month of fasting, praying, and reading the Qur’an, many Muslims resume their normal lives with a renewed sense of purpose and dedication to the faith. The Eid celebration is one of the most beautiful examples of the true essence of Islam, where the diversity, community, and commitment to peace are most obvious.
Have you attended an Eid celebration? What does Eid mean for you? Are there commonalities between Eid and other celebrations in other faiths? Please share your comments.