he Review of Religions, April 1992
This religious celebration is observed on the day following the last day of fasting which is observed daily by all able-bodied Muslims from dawn till sunset throughout the Islamic month of Ramazan. It is a day of much rejoicing and happiness especially by those fortunate persons who observed the fasts and reaped the spiritual fruits of this holy exercise in accordance with the directions of God in the Holy Quran.
Fasting has been prescribed in one form or another by all the revealed religions of the world. The Bible tells us that Prophet David declared ‘I humbled my soul with fasting’ (Psalms 35:13) and we read in the New Testament that ‘the disciples of Jesus and the Pharisees used to fast’ (Mark 2:18). We are also told that ‘Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights’ (Matthew 4:2).
One does not only feel happy on Eid-ul-Fitr because through exercising self-discipline one has successfully complied with the commandment of God to observe the fasts, but also on account of a feeling of spiritual exhilaration which glows within the heart and soul.
No doubt on Eid-ul-Fitr much pleasure is derived from wearing new clothes, meeting friends and relatives and eating specially prepared food. These are all ways of celebrating the occasion. The main event, of course, is the religious service when one offers prayers and listens to the inspirational address of the Imam on relevant matters concerning the significance of the occasion. As the main purpose of fasting is to develop righteousness and self-purification (Quran 2:186) the most attractive garment one should be wearing is the one mentioned by God in the Holy Quran:
The raiment of righteousness – that is the best. (7:27)
The real food one should be enjoying is the spiritual nourishment acquired during the month of fasting.
Eid-ul-Fitr should remind one of many lessons learned from fasting and which, during the holy month of Ramazan, one should have endeavoured to keep in mind and to have practised. One of them is the offering of one’s morning (Fajr) prayer before sunrise and also of the offering the efficacious pre-dawn prayer (Tahajjud) which is highly recommended. One realizes that it is not too difficult to arise early and offer these prayers at the proper time. If one can discipline oneself to do so during the month of fasting then it is not impossible to do so during the other months of the year also.
The purpose of taking medicine is to combat and cure an ailing condition and when it takes good effect one wants to maintain one’s improved condition. Likewise when one reduces weight after a course of dieting one wants to maintain one’s lower weight and similarly one wants to maintain one’s improved physical condition after completing a course of exercise. After completion of the holy month of fasting one is able to gauge one’s improved spiritual condition as a result of one’s devotion, conduct, prayers and divine favours received during that period. On Eid-ul-Fitr one should reflect one’s condition of spiritual improvement and resolve not to lose what one has gained but rather, not only to maintain it, but press forward to even higher spiritual development through righteous conduct, prayers and seeking the Grace of God.
This is the spirit of Eid-ul-Fitr.