For over one billion Muslims throughout the world, Ramadhan is a special month of the year. During the month of Ramadhan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset every day. Ramadhan was the month in which the first verses of the holy Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God and self-control. The sighting of the new moon at the end of Ramadhan heralds the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr. Fitr means to break symbolizing the break of the fasting period and of all evil habits thereafter.
Eid-ul-Fitr is a joyous festival with significant religious significance. Happiness surrounds the ambience with attainment of the spiritual blessings after a month of fasting. Muslims dress with new attire and attend a special congregational prayer in the morning. After the service, worshippers greet and embrace each other in a spirit of peace, love and brotherhood and visit friends and relatives. For Muslims, Eid ul Fitr is a joyful celebration of the achievement of enhanced piety. It is a day of forgiveness, moral victory and peace, of congregation, fellowship, brotherhood and unity.
The conception of Eid in Islam is not confined only to celebration extravagance, luxurious feasts, friendly handshakes and embraces. The Muslims should rather devote this day to the worship of God and should beseech Him to approve their virtuous deeds and forgive their sins. This is because the doors of God’s pardon are kept open this day and His Blessings are bountiful.
Eid-ul-Fitr is a great day of festival for Muslims. It is a day of rejoicing and being happy. But for whom? Is it the day of rejoicing for those who simply put on new clothes and wear perfume? Or is it the day of being happy for those who were eagerly waiting for the release of the greatest enemy of mankind, Satan, from his captivity so that they all revert to committing sins? Muslims abstain from sins during the month of Ramadan, but come Eid-ul-Fitr, they should keep up the same during the remaining 11months of the year. Just as, when a person goes to a college, or a university and at the completion of his course, he receives his award marking his achievement, we must understand that, the holy month of Ramadan is a spiritual university where we are being trained to achieve Taqwa i.e. piety. The day of Eid-ul-Fitr is when Allah (SWT) is awarding us for our achievements.
Zakat al-Fitr is a small amount that Muslims are obliged to pay as charity at the end of Ramadan. Zakat al-Fitr is often referred to as Sadaqah al-Fitr (voluntary charity). The word Fitr means the same as Iftaar, breaking a fast and it comes from the same root word as Futoor which means breakfast. Thus, Islamically, Zakat al-Fitr is the name given to charity which is distributed at the end of the fast of Ramadan.
Fitr is compulsory on those who can afford it, and it is a sin not to give it. Fitr can be major items of food consumed by a person during the year. These may be rice, wheat, barley, dates, etc. In weight Fitr should be three Kilograms per person. It is also permissible to pay cash to the value of three Kilograms food grains.
It is obligatory on the head of the family to give Fitr of all persons (including servants of both sexes of any cast or creed) that take food in his house.
If one’s wife is at her parent’s on the night of Eid al-Fitr, her parents should take out her Fitr. Fitr should be given to deserving poor and needy who do not have enough income for the maintenance of their families for the whole year.
Fitr cannot be given to one’s dependants. But, it is better to give it to non-dependant deserving relatives. Next in order of preference are deserving neighbors and then any other deserving pious persons. Although it is permissible to send Fitr to any place it is preferable if it is distributed to a deserving person locally.
The time for giving Fitr is from the night of Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan Eid) up to the noon (Zohr) of Eid al-Fitr. If this is not possible for some reason the amount of Fitr should be set apart from his other monies and disbursed when a deserving person is available. It is stated that Fitr ought to be given to pious persons and not those who indulge in sin.
And now that the Holy Month of Glory (Ramadan) has departed and Eid is over, let us look back to the lessons it has taught us, and let us pray to God that the things we observed, the recitation of the Holy Quran, the saying of Prayers (Namaz) regularly, the charity which we did, the poor that we fed, the good manners and self-restraint, should be with us in our everyday lives and these are the very ACTS that take us nearer to God.
And God Almighty has said, "Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me." Holy Quran (2:152).
"If ye are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed." Holy Quran (14:7).
"Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer): but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell – in humiliation!" Holy Quran (40:60).
(Compiled with the help of references)
Author: Hasan Yusuf- Kuwait