Issue Date: September 23, 2008
City: Washington, DC
Ramadan, a month of fasting, prayer, and charity, is a time for Muslims to set aside many of their worldly activities and become closer to Allah. Eid ul-Fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast, is an Islamic holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan. The Prophet Muhammad and his followers observed the first Eid in the year 624, following their victory in the Battle of Badr. Since then, Eid celebrations have begun the morning after the crescent moon, at the end of Ramadan.
To begin their celebration, Muslims start their day very early with a light meal, symbolizing the end of the fasting period of Ramadan. Next, they attend large prayer services. They are encouraged to wear new clothes for the occasion. These services are also the time when they make their Zakat al-Fitr donation, a gift of food and money. Following a short prayer and sermon, worshippers then hug and shake hands to spread peace among their congregation. They spend the rest of the day celebrating with family and friends, thanking Allah for all he has given them.
Eid is a joyous day for all, a time to appreciate the company of loved ones and settle disputes. It is a day of generosity, which customarily includes giving gifts and money to children. Many Muslims also take this day to visit cemeteries to pray for those who have died.