Ramadan & Eid

Information about Ramadan and Eid for non muslims

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast.During the blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours. As a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on Allah, and practice self-sacrifice, Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking.

Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, do away with bad habits — essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. The Arabic word for “fasting” (sawm) literally means “to refrain” – and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words.

During Ramadan, every part of the body must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast.

Therefore, fasting is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person’s body and soul to the spirit of the fast. Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one’s self on the worship of Allah.   Even though muslims stop fasting after Ramadan is complete the muslims hope that the practices and habits of Ramadan will remain with them through out the year.

What is Eid?

There are two Eids each year.  These are the only two holidays that muslims celebrate.

Eid Al Fitr

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking).Eid al-Fitr falls on the first day of Shawwal, the month which follows Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. It is a time to give in charity to those in need, and celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy.

Before the day of Eid, during the last few days of Ramadan, each Muslim family gives a determined amount as a donation to the poor. This donation is of actual food — rice, barley, dates, rice, etc. — to ensure that the needy can have a holiday meal and participate in the celebration. This donation is known as sadaqah al-fitr (charity of fast-breaking).

On the day of Eid, Muslims gather early in the morning in outdoor locations or mosques to perform the Eid prayer. This consists of a sermon followed by a short congregational prayer.

After the Eid prayer, Muslims usually scatter to visit various family and friends, give gifts (especially to children), and make phone calls to distant relatives to give well-wishes for the holiday. These activities traditionally continue for three days. In most Muslim countries, the entire 3-day period is an official government/school holiday.

What is Eid Al Adha?

At the end of the Hajj (annual pilgrimage to Mecca), Muslims throughout the world celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice).

 What does Eid al-Adha commemorate?

During the Hajj, Muslims remember and commemorate the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Abraham. The Qur’an describes Abraham as follows:

“Surely Abraham was an example, obedient to Allah, by nature upright, and he was not of the polytheists. He was grateful for Our bounties. We chose him and guided him unto a right path. We gave him good in this world, and in the next he will most surely be among the righteous.” (Qur’an 16:120-121

One of Abraham’s main trials was to face the command of Allah to kill his only son. Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to Allah’s will. When he was all prepared to do it, Allah revealed to him that his “sacrifice” had already been fulfilled. He had shown that his love for his Lord superceded all others, that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dear to him in order to submit to God.

Why do Muslims sacrifice an animal on this day?

During the celebration of Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember Abraham’s trials, by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel, or goat. This action is very often misunderstood by those outside the faith.

Allah has given us power over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. Muslims slaughter animals in the same way throughout the year. By saying the name of Allah at the time of slaughter, we are reminded that life is sacred.

The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor. The act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow Allah’s commands. It also symbolizes our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need. We recognize that all blessings come from Allah, and we should open our hearts and share with others.

It is very important to understand that the sacrifice itself, as practiced by Muslims, has nothing to do with atoning for our sins or using the blood to wash ourselves from sin. This is a misunderstanding by those of previous generations: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him.” (Qur’an 22:37)

The symbolism is in the attitude – a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the Straight Path. Each of us makes small sacrifices, giving up things that are fun or important to us. A true Muslim, one who submits his or herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow Allah’s commands completely and obediently. It is this strength of heart, purity in faith, and willing obedience that our Lord desires from us.

What Else do the muslims do on Eid Day?

On the first morning of Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world attend morning prayers at their local mosques. Prayers are followed by visits with family and friends, and the exchange of greetings and gifts. At some point, members of the family will visit a local farm or otherwise will make arrangements for the slaughter of an animal. The meat is distributed during the days of the holiday or shortly thereafter.