Eid in Muslim Society: Eid Al-Fitr Celebration (Ramadan Celebration)

Eid Al-Fitr is one of the two great Islamic festivals, the other being Eid Al-Adh'ha. Its importance can be judged from the fact that Almighty Allah Himself ordered the believers to celebrate it. It is celebrated at the end of the month of fasting (Ramadan) and has a special significance for the Muslim society. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) established the Islamic egalitarian society, free of all kinds of exploitation and corruption, and maintaining the sanctity of this society was made the obligation of the believers in every age. For this purpose, the holy month of fasting (Ramadan) was selected to help prepare believers for this responsibility. In this training, during the specific fasting periods believers are required to refrain from enjoying such things, which are otherwise lawful for them.
The purpose of this exercise is mentioned in the following verse of the Holy Qur'an: "So that you may learn restraint." (2:183) Believers happily obey these injunctions to please Almighty Allah. Such an exercise has pleasant effects on the practical life of believers and, in their practical life, helps them refrain from adopting corrupt ways.
Some jurists maintain that Itikaf during the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan is also a part of this training. In this worship, the believer confines himself in a mosque for the specified period of time.
The Islamic society, established in the light of the above teachings was a symbol of the greatness of Almighty Allah on this earth. Actually it was a gigantic achievement, which deserved all kinds of rejoicing. That is why Almighty Allah Himself asked the believers to enjoy this occasion, In this respect the Holy Qur'an says: "Say in the grace of Allah and in His mercy in that they should rejoice." (Chapter Yunus, Verse 58) The celebration of the festival of Eid Al-Fitr is itself a model of an egalitarian Islamic society, and the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.&h.h.) best explained this model by his personal example. It is reported that he used to wear a special dress to grace the occasion, but it was never a costly one and was always within the reach of everybody. Once Omar brought a costly dress for him requesting him to wear it on Eid days and other ceremonial occasions. The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.&h.h.) immediately returned the dress observing that it did not behave a believer to wear such a costly dress. The result was that all the Companions dressed simply on this occasion and consequently this simplicity became a symbol of the Islamic society.
Today, the provision of shelter, dress and food are enumerated as the three basic human needs, and equality in meeting these needs results in all egalitarian society. The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.&h.h.) already solved the issue of shelter once and for all. He himself lived in a simple house and expected his Companions to follow him in this respect. Once when a wealthy Companion built a palatial building, the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.&h.h.) disliked it to such an extent that he socially boycotted that Companion (Sunnan Abu Dawood, vol.4, p. 487). As a result of the Holy Prophet's stern attitude in this respect, none of the Companions ever dared to have an edge over his fellow believers in the matter of construction of buildings. Due to this policy, even the poor in the society were able to have shelter for themselves.
By dressing simply on this happiest occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.&h.h.) solved the issue of the second basic need of the society.
The third basic need of society is food. Today this need has attained such an importance that it results in political change in many developing countries. By taking various steps, the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.&h.h.) ensured that nobody was deprived of this basic need in the Islamic society. But the situation on festivals is usually different. On this day, everybody tries to enjoy special dishes, which normally the poor cannot afford. The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.&h.h.) held this point in view, and he made such an efficient arrangement that not only was good food guaranteed for all the poor of the society on that day, but also some of their other needs were met. He ordered the rich believers to pay a fixed amount of money to the poor on that day or before that day. This is known as "Sadaqat Al-Fitr (Zakat-e-Fitr)", and its rate varies according to the price of grain.
A huge amount of money can be collected under this system which may be sufficient to meet the needs of the poor on this day, and some of it may be saved to meet their needs in other difficult times.
Nowadays in many localities, (Sadaqat Al-Fitr) is adjusted against the emoluments of the Imams of the local mosques, and the poor in the Muslim society air deprived of a big chunk of money which may practically convert the present-day Muslim society into an egalitarian society.
It may be mentioned here that the sacred festival of Eid Al-Fitr has been selected by Almighty Allah Himself to guide the believers to establish an egalitarian Islamic society on the face of this earth. The Holy Qur'an was revealed during the month of Ramadan about which it was marked: "It (the Holy Qur'an) is better than that which they hoard." (Chapter Yunus, Verse 58)
Hoarding symbolizes a non-egalitarian society, which encourages the hoarding of essential articles. This is done to fleece the needy persons. The Holy Qur'an was revealed to eliminate this evil in all its details, and the month of Ramadan was selected for this purpose. The successful completion of all the various steps for establishing such an egalitarian society deserves rejoicing.
Nowadays the Muslims with great pomp and show celebrate Eid Al-Fitr, but unfortunately its real spirit is ignored. That is why the present-day Muslim society age, instead of becoming an egalitarian one, has been divided into haves and have-nots. This state of affairs has not only robbed the majority of Muslims of their peace of mind, but has also converted them into the weakest nation of the world. Such a situation demands that steps be taken to celebrate this occasion of Eid Al-Fitr in the same sprit as during the life of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.&h.h.).
In this way Muslims will be able to convert their present day society into an Islamic egalitarian one. It will prove beneficial for humanity as it proved so during the early periods of Islam.
The day immediately following the end of the holy month of Ramadan is called Eid Fitr. In other words, it falls on the first day of Shawwal. It is one of the greatest Islamic festivals.
Eid Fitr is the Day of Thanksgiving to Allah, for giving His servants the opportunity to fast and to worship Him in the month of Ramadan. On this Day, Muslims leave their jobs, wear clean clothes, offer special Eid Prayer, and after prayers go to visit one another and take part in festivities. Small children wear beautiful new clothes, and are very busy enjoying the festival. Their angelic faces beam with joy.
Islam wants that all Muslims, whether rich or poor, should enjoy Eid. It has, therefore, commanded all the well-to-do people to pay the Zakat Al-Fitr. This Zakat Al-Fitr is paid on the very day of Eid Al-Fitr. It consists of 3 kilograms of one's daily food or its equivalent in cash.
The payment of Zakat Al-Fitr is obligatory upon every person who is adult, sane and free at the time of the sunset on the last day of Ramadan, and is also not dependent upon others for means of subsistence. If the person concerned is the head of a family, it is incumbent upon him to pay his own Zakat Al-Fitr as well.
Zakat Al-Fitr is the right of the poor and the needy, and can be spent for those purposes only, for which Zakat, payable on property, is expendable. This includes helping the deserving people and building hospitals, bridges, schools, etc.
Nowadays, Zakat-e-Fitr is paid without any planning, with the result that the deserving people do not derive any suitable benefit from it. It would be better if the Zakat Al-Fitr paid by all the people, is collected in one place and spent after proper planning, so that the condition of a good number of needy persons may improve.