Ramzan 2020 shall go down as a memorable one for all those of us who fasted and prayed within the confines of our homes, adopting a new way of life while the pandemic was still at large. As we approach the end of Ramzan, it is time to welcome Eid ul-Fitr.
Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated on the first date of Shawwal, that is, the tenth month of the Hijra (Islamic) calendar. According to a tradition recorded in Sahih Bukhari, Prophet of Islam said the following prayer as he saw the new moon which marked the onset of the month of Shawwal. He prayed,“O Lord, make this moon a moon of peace for us!” This prayer illustrates the spirit of Eid, which is peace and well-wishing for fellow human-beings.
Usually, Eid ul-Fitr prayers at the mosque mark the start of the day but in keeping with the extraordinary circumstances this year, scholars have advised that Muslims should act in line with the government directives and observe the Eid ul-Fitr prayers at home. This view is prescribed by majority of Muslim scholars from various schools of thought. The two units (rakat) of Eid ul-Fitr prayers can be offered anytime in the morning, after the sunrise. It can be prayed individually as well as with other members of the family. The believers must ensure to give out the Zakat al-Fitra or the obligatory act of charity, to those in need before the Eid prayer. This act of caring for the members of our society represents the spirit of Eid and the true spirit of Islam.
As per scholars, Eid prayer is not like the Juma prayer (Friday prayer) where a minimum number is required for the congregational prayer to take place. Hence it can be offered at home. There are several traditions from which we learn that such a practice of offering Eid prayer at home is not unheard of. For example, as per a Sahih Bukhari tradition, once a close companion of the Prophet of Islam, Anas ibn Malik could not offer the Eid congregational prayer at the mosque. So, Anas ibn Malik gathered everyone at his house and offered Eid prayer with them. This practice was later followed by many companions. If they could not join the Eid congregational prayers at the mosque, they would offer the prayer at home.
Another part of the congregational Eid prayer is Khutbah (or sermon) which is recited at the mosque by the Imam after offering the 2 units of prayers. Khutbah is a sermon which is recited to invoke contemplation and to allow a believer to ponder over the teachings of the Quran. However, when the prayers are offered at home, Khutbah is not obligatory. Instead, we can use this opportunity to engage in introspection within our homes and reinforce the lessons learnt during the month of Ramzan and how they could be applied in the year to follow. This introspection allows a believer to commit to live as a peaceful member of the society and foster the spirit of harmony and brotherhood.
With or without a pandemic, Eid celebrations demand simplicity. Once, the Prophet of Islam received a silk cloak as a gift, but he did not accept it. Instead he had it returned and advised that it be used for fulfilling needs. This act indicates the importance Islam lays on need-based living instead of desire-based living. Simple living is the bedrock of a culture where well-wishing and care flourish. This sentiment sets the tone of how we should live in our society as thoughtful and caring members.
While Eid marks the end to Ramzan, it is also the beginning of post-Ramzan period. It marks the time to put in practice the intensive training received during the period of fasting where we endeavored to steer our mind away from negative thinking, despair and materialistic desires. While Ramzan is over but this sentiment must be lived during the post-Ramzan period.
Although this Eid, we can neither visit homes nor encourage anyone to visit our homes, we still can connect in many other ways. Let’s be together as a family, start the day with two Eid rakats and be grateful for the blessings of God Almighty. Remember to include the entire humanity in your prayers, to pray for alleviation of this affliction and to prepare for embracing a new world that is knocking at our doors once this crisis settles. Let’s live a unique Eid this time, and turn it into an experience, which will echo throughout our lives!
(Raamish Siddiqui is an Islamic thinker and writer. His published works include ‘The True Face of Islam’ and ‘Timeless Wisdom’. Raamish has been actively engaged with many inter-faith initiatives across the globe. Views are personal.)