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February 1997 - Eid Mubarak to all!

His Highness the Aga Khan, at age 8, leading the Eid Prayers in Nairobi, Kenya 1944

Ramadhan and Eid-Ul-Fitr

'Eid-Ul-Fitr' is one of the most important festivals in Islam which is celebrated by Muslims all over the world with great joy and festivities. 'Eid" means 'a recurring happiness or festivity' and 'fitr' means to 'to begin'. 'Iftar' means 'the breaking of the fast' and it is from this that the name 'Eid-ul-Fitr' seems to have been taken which means 'festival of the breaking of the fast'. When our Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) arrived in Medina, he found that people of the city celebrated many festivals. He abolished these pagan observances and told the Muslims that the two Eids were prescribed for them as festivals, one being 'Eid-Ul-Fitr' and the other 'Eid-Ul-Adha'. 'Eid-Ul-Fitr' falls on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Muslim calendar, and marks the end of the fasting observed by the Muslims during the month of Ramadhan. It is a well known fact that while the Holy Quran was revealed piecemeal during a period of twenty-three years, the first revelation came to our Prophet (s.a.s) in the month of Ramadhan, and it is, therefore, that month which witnessed the greatest spiritual experience of the Holy Prophet (s.a.s) and was considered to be the most suitable month for the spiritual discipline of the Muslim community. Allah says in the Holy Quran: "The month of Ramadhan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of guidance and the Criterion (of right and wrong). So whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein." (Sura Bakr 2:185) Fasting was prescribed as an act of self-denial with a view to attaining moral and spiritual upliftment. The Holy Quran and the Prophet (s.a.s) have laid special stress on this. Allah says: "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard against evil." (Sura Bakr 2:183) The Holy Prophet (s.a.s) has said: "Whoever does not give up lying and acting falsely, Allah does not stand in need of his giving up food and drink." (al-Baqara 30.8) On the meaning and essence of fasting, Hazrat Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah (s.a.) has said: "Haqiqati Momins do not fast only in the month of Ramadhan. For them fasting is for all the 360 days. In the 360 days (360 because of lunar months) when not a single evil act is committed and not a single person is hurt, that is fasting." (Kalame Imam i-Mubin, Part 1) The observance of Eid is an expression of joy at having fulfilled Allah's command of discipline and piety. It is also a day of thanksgiving to Allah for the guidance He bestowed upon mankind through His last Prophet and the Imams. While "Eid-ul-Fitr" is an occasion for joy and happiness, it is certainly not an occasion for over-eating, frivolity or for the pursuit of pleasure. The joy on this occasion is the spiritual joy of fulfilment and it is in this moment that Muslims assemble to offer Eid prayer which is said anytime after sunrise and before noon. As they stand in the presence of their Maker and prostrate before Him in thanksgiving, they exhibit the fraternity and brotherhood which is the important and significant aspect of Islam. Eid, the festival of the joy of spiritual fulfilment is a reminder to the believers to spend in the way of Allah, for it is only through right spending that peity can be attained. Allah says in the Holy Quran: "You will not attain unto piety until you spend of that which you love. And whatsoever you spend, Allah is aware thereof." (Sura Al-Imran 3:91) 'Eid-Ul-Fitr' also occasions an opportunity for the believers to forget all grudges and ill-feelings towards one another and start afresh in the brotherly spirit that Islam preaches. The underlying message of this happy occasion is that the believers who fulfil God's command of discipline and piety, and who abstain from evil and unlawful pleasures are always blessed with the joy which surpasses all the worldly material joys. The acts of piety and religious discipline are not to be restricted to only a few days every year but are to be performed regularly throughout one's life. Source: Al-Misbah, Vol. 2 No. 1, July 1982, United Kingdom

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