‘There Comes the Id el-Fitr’
On Tuesday or Wednesday next week (4th or 5th of June, 2019), the Muslim world shall be observing the festival (‘Id) to mark the end of this year’s fasting period. The word ‘Id, in Arabic, means that which recurs or returns. Technically it refers to the celebration of the end of the month long fasting of Ramadan. It is a celebration of the completion of the month-long training in the “school of Ramadan” where Muslims “attended courses” in patience, perseverance and honesty. The ‘Id al-Fitr is the occasion on which Muslims are expected to bask in an uncommon happiness particularly for their ability to connect with the Almighty Allah and especially at a time when profanity and bestiality have become fashionable.
The Id al-Fitr is therefore like the day of graduation from the spiritual school of Ramadan- a school in which Muslims, unlike before, have become rejuvenated in their trust in the Almighty; we would go to the praying grounds on the ‘Id with the firm assurance that we have re-connected with Him; that under no circumstance shall we allow earthly principalities to pollute our souls; never again shall we allow our prosperity to demean our spirituality; never again shall we allow adversity to purblind us to the greater responsibility of walking with the Almighty in the wilderness of this terrestrial life.
However, it is important for us to note that our “graduation” from Ramadan is like our arrival to a station which is, in itself, the beginning of another of another journey. In other words, the whole essence of life and living for the conscious Muslim is all about arrival and departure; we arrive from a religious duty in order to depart for another one. The onset of the Id al-Fitr, like it is for Id al-Adha, implies the undertaking of series of religious duties. Muslim festivals are therefore not ends in themselves but means to more hallowed spiritual-social ends. Each time Muslims prostrate in obeisance to Him, they are expected to rise in order that they might rescue humanity from the multiplexity of maladies confronting the latter.
Thus, as we count down to the ‘Id al-fitr, prepare to observe the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad. Plan to wake up very early in the morning; observe the tahajud (do not let this virtue slip away from your schedules after Ramadan), and in keeping with the Sunnah, take a bath before Fajr prayers and put on new clothes (or the best available). It is sunnah for men to use perfume not only on Id days but always. It is not allowed for Muslims to fast on this day. Take a light breakfast before setting out to the praying ground.
Again, do not forget that it is in the tradition of the Prophet that we give out Sadaqat-ul-fitr preferably before the id prayers are observed. It is usually paid for and on behalf of all Muslims in a household, the young and the old. It may be paid in kind and this may feature three to four seers of wheat, barley, rice or any staple food. (Sahih Bukhari 24:70). Of recent, Muslims scholars have addressed the necessity of monetizing this act of worship based on existential necessities.
In the University of Ibadan central mosque, for example, the Imam usually announce a certain amount of money to be paid by individuals in lieu of giving Sadaqat al-Fitr out in kind. This falls under the legal rubric- maslahat al-Ammah- the promotion of the public convenience. Whether it is given out in cash or in kind, the more important issue is the intention behind the act. Our intention should be the extension of the happiness of the occasion to our brethren who are experiencing adversity. We should desire for our brothers and sisters the same quality of life the like of which the Almighty has been kind to grant unto us.
But how shall we go about doing this duty? It is better we give out our Sadaqat al-Fitr to our Imams who would and should, following Quran 9 verse 60, distribute same among the eight categories of people who qualify to receive Zakat. Brethren, our acts of generosity stand better acceptance when they are given incognito; when we give, like Ali ibn Abi Talib, in expectation of no appreciation. We should cultivate the habit of giving, in line with the Prophet’s advise, in such a way that our left hand would not know what our right-hand has handed out.
Brethren, set out early for the ‘id prayer ground. While going there in your car, stop on the way to offer seats in your car to your brethren who might be going there on foot. Do not wait to be asked before you offer such assistance. Again this is highly virtuous.
On the way to the ‘Id praying ground engage in much glorification of Allah. In low voice, say: Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. Laa ilaaha ilal-lahu wal-Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa-lilla hil hamd -He is the Greatest, He is the Greatest; He is the Greatest; there is no god He; He is the Greatest; to Him belongs all praises!
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