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Eid ul-Fitr

The Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر) marks the end of Ramadan. It is one of the two Eid festivals in the Islamic year (the other being Eid ul-Adha). It's also referred to as the Little or Small Bayram (which originates from Turkish), or the "Little" or "Small Feast".

This holiday follows the month of Ramadan, falling on the first day of Shawwal (the tenth month in the Islamic calendar). As with all months in the Islamic calendar, it begins with the sighting of the new moon. For this reason there may be regional differences in the exact date of Eid, with some Muslims fasting for 29 days and some for 30 days.

Eid ul-Fitr commemorates the end of the month of Ramadan. Fasting is forbidden on this day as it marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan. A Muslim is encouraged to rise early and partake of some dates or a light, sweet snack, significant because for the past 30 days they have abstained from all food and drink from dawn till dusk. It may come as a surprise to many non-Muslims, but many people feel a sense of loss or sadness at the passing of Ramadan.

Muslims are encouraged to dress in their best clothes, new if possible, and to attend a special Eid prayer that is performed in congregation at mosques. Before the prayer the congregation recites the Takbiir:

Allahu akbarullahu, akbarullahu akbar
la illaha illa Allah,
Allahu akbarullahu, akbar
w'al i'llah h'ilhamd
God is Greatest, God is Greatest, God is Greatest
There is no god but [the One] God
God is Greatest, God is Greatest
and to Him goes all praise

The Takbiir is recited after the Fajr (morning) prayer and until the start of the Eid prayer. Before the Eid prayer begins every Muslim (man, women or child) must pay Zakat al Fitr, an alms for the month of Ramadan. This equates to about 2 kg of a basic foodstuff (wheat, barley, dates, raisins, etc.), or its cash equivalent, and is (typically) collected at the mosque. This is distributed by the mosque to needy local Muslims prior to the start of the Eid prayer. It can be given anytime during the month of Ramadan and is often given early, so the recipient can utilise it for Eid purchases. This is distinct to Zakat based on their wealth which must be paid to a worthy charity. This is calculated at 2.5% of their wealth.

The Eid prayer is followed by the khutba (sermon) and then a prayer asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for the plight of Muslims across the world. It is then customary to embrace the persons sitting on either side of you as well as your relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Children are normally given gifts or money. Women (particularly relations) are normally given special gifts by their loved ones. Eid is also the time for reconcilliations. Feuds or disputes, especially between family members, are often settled on Eid.

In Indonesian the feast is named Idul Fitri, and is celebrated with friends and family and everyone visits (or tries to visit) his hometown, resulting in chaos on the roads and other places (airports, trainstations, etc.) throughout the country. Another name for this period of celebrating and visiting is Lebaran, often lasting four to five days.

In neighbouring Malaysia & Singapore, it is also commonly known as Hari Raya Aidulfitri.

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Last updated: 10-15-2005 05:31:17
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