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Eid al-Adhaa and Eid al-Fitr [1]
These two annual festivals were initiated by the Prophet (peace be upon him), according to the directives of God. A few annual festivals have been mentioned in the books of history as a part of the socio-religious tradition of the Arab polytheists. In the same manner, a few celebrations have also remained a part of the Jewish traditions, however, according to the Torah and other scriptures, it is clear that all these festivals were, in fact, in commemoration of certain events of national significance in the history of the Israelites. Through the last revelation of His guidance to man, God promulgated the two Eid days as religious celebrations. Both these celebrations, which God recognized and promoted in His final Shari`ah, through the Prophet (peace be upon him), are connected to the two most significant events of submission to God's will and piety. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated every year at the end of the month of Ramadhan (the month of fasting), on the first day of Shawwal (the month following the month of Ramadhan), after the Muslims have completed the prescribed fasting during Ramadhan. Eid al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th of Dhul Hajj (the last month of the Muslim calendar, during which the Muslims undertake the pilgrimage to Makkah), in commemoration of the great sacrifice of Abraham (peace be upon him).
According to some historical narratives, it has been reported that both these festivals were first initiated after the Prophet (peace be upon him)'s migration and the establishment of the first Muslim state in Madinah. In one such narrative, Anas (may God be pleased with him) is reported to have said:
“When the Prophet (peace be upon him) reached Madinah, people used to observe two festivals, in which they would play games and have fun. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked them: 'What is the significance of these two days?' People told him: 'Since the pre-Islamic days, these have been our days of celebration and games'. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: God has replaced these days with two other days: the day of the Eid al-Adha and the day of the Eid al-Fitr.” (Abu Dawud)
A few actions were promulgated by the Prophet (peace be upon him) through his Sunnah for all Muslims to observe with reference to these days. These actions include:
  1. Zakah al-Fitr;
  2. The address and the prayer on the Eid days; and
  3. Declaring God's praise and His greatness, after each prayer during the three days[2] following the Eid al-Adha.
The Zakah al-Fitr is to be paid during the last days of Ramadhan, before the Eid. The amount to be paid as Zakah al-Fitr has been prescribed as one day's food requirements of a person. It is to be paid for each person, whether young or old, in one's household. During the days of the Prophet (peace be upon him), it was, generally, prescribed in terms of grain. It was prescribed by the Prophet (peace be upon him) at approximately two and a half kilograms of any of the more popular grains. According to one of the narratives reported by Bukhari:
“The Prophet (peace be upon him) prescribed Zakah al-Fitr at a Saa`[3] of dates or barley upon every Muslim: whether slave or free, man or woman, grown-up or a child. He also directed that it should be distributed before going for prayers[4] on the Eid day.”
According to Abd Allah ibn Abbas (may God be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace be upon him) prescribed the payment of the Zakah al-Fitr as atonement or penance for any wrongdoings during the month of Ramadhan as well as for making arrangements for the food of the deprived[5].
Praising and glorifying God after each prayer has been prescribed without fixing any specific words for such praise and glorification. This implies that any words may be used for such declaration[6]. The days during which such declaration is formally prescribed are the same, which have been prescribed for staying at Minaa, after the sacrifice during Hajj. These days are also considered to be a part of the Eid celebrations after the 10th of Dhul Hajj.
Both the festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adhaa are special occasions for the remembrance of God and expressing gratitude towards Him as well as for celebration, enjoyment and entertainment. According to Ayesha (may God be pleased with her), once when Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with him) tried to stop some young girls from singing songs in the Prophet (peace be upon him)'s house, he said:
“Abu Bakr, every nation has a day of celebration. This is our day of celebration [therefore, let these girls entertain themselves].” (Bukhari)
According to some of the narratives reported in the various compilations, the Prophet (peace be upon him)'s general routine on these days was as under:
  • On the day of Eid al-Fitr, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would eat a few dates (in odd numbers) before leaving for the Eid congregation and prayer[7].
  • On the day of Eid al-Adhaa, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would not eat anything before the Eid congregation and prayer[8].
  • On both these occasions, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would take a separate route while approaching and returning from the place of the Eid congregation and prayers[9].
End Notes:

[1] These are two annual festivals, one at the end of Ramadhan after the Muslims have completed the month of fasting and the other during the days of Hajj, in commemoration of the great sacrifice of Abraham (peace be upon him).


[2] These days are known as the "Ayyam e Tashriq" (i.e. the days of Tashreeq).


[3] A local measure, equal to about two and half kilograms.


[4] Reference is to the congregational prayers for Eid.


[5] Abu Dawood, Kitaab al-Zaka'h, Baab: Zaka'h al-Fitr


[6] The Qur'an has specially directed to praise and glorify God during these days. It seems that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has prescribed this declaration of God's praise and His greatness after each prayer to serve as a reminder of the Qur'anic directive.


[7] Bukhari, Kitaab al-Jum`ah, Baab: Al-Akl Yawm al-Fitr Qabl al-Khurooj.


[8] Tirmidhi, Kitaab al-Jum`ah, Baab: Maa Ja'a fi Al-Akl Yawm al-Fitr Qabl al-Khurooj.


[9] Bukhari, Kitaab al-Jum`ah, Baab: Mun Khaalafa al-Tareeq Idha Raja`a Yawm al-Eid.


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