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Why was Eid al-Fitr a celebration?

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From Imam Ali, peace be upon him: “Eid is truly for those whose fasting is accepted by Allah…”

Introduction:

In the Quran, Eid is mentioned in the story of the table spread (Ma’idah) sent down to Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, and his disciples, intended to be a day of celebration for his followers. The Almighty said: “Jesus, the son of Mary, said: ‘O Allah, our Lord, send us a table from heaven to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us; You are the best of providers'” (Quran 5:114). The request of the disciples from Jesus was for food that satisfies their physical hunger, leading to two outcomes: the reassurance of their hearts and their conviction in the truth of Jesus’s message, as mentioned in the Quran: “We wish to eat from it and to satisfy our hearts and to know that you have told us the truth and that we ourselves may be witnesses to it” (Quran 5:113).

And it’s mentioned finally that this also serves as them being witnesses to the miracle and to inform people about its truth, thereby strengthening their argument before people. Thus, memorializing the descent of the table spread by making it a day of celebration that is remembered whenever its time comes around.

If the descent of a feast for the body is a celebration for the nation of Jesus, shouldn’t the descent of a feast for the souls, minds, and hearts from the heavens also be a celebration? I mean the descent of the Holy Quran.

Why is Eid al-Fitr considered a celebration?

In addition to being associated with the month of the descent of Allah’s greatest feast, the Holy Quran, which comforts hearts and because we are witnesses to its miracle, we can say: In addition to all that was mentioned before, the following:

  1. The day restrictions are lifted: Since Ramadan is a month where many permissible things are prohibited, Eid al-Fitr is the day these restrictions are lifted, highlighting God’s mercy and favor on humans. God could have made these restrictions for a lifetime, but He designated a fixed term, which is the crescent of Shawwal, making it a sign of lifting the restrictions and the return of permissibility, hence, the Eid here is an act of gratitude towards Allah.
  2. The day of human success in fulfilling duties: When we hear Imam Ali’s statement, “Every day in which Allah is not disobeyed is an Eid,” we understand that success in not sinning against Allah and remaining in His obedience is a day of celebration, pleasing for the human due to God’s guidance in fulfilling His duties. Thus, the correct understanding of Eid is based on it being a criterion for the elevation and refinement of a person from a faith perspective, i.e., their moral, ideological development, discipline, and steadfastness on the path of the true religion, and the divine rewards that result from this success make Eid al-Fitr a day of reward, where the winners rejoice in their prizes.
  3. The day of victory: For example, Eid al-Adha follows the stoning of the Devil symbol and adherence to a set of disciplines, marking the day Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael succeeded, symbolizing human’s victory over self for God to the extent of offering his son and himself when commanded by God.

Eid al-Fitr is the day of human victory over their enemy, the devil, by restraining themselves from desires, a victory over oneself by sacrificing these desires on the altar of divine command, evident through compliance in abstaining from them for an entire month. In this context, Imam Ali’s saying is understood: “Eid is truly for those whose fasting is accepted by Allah.”

The day of meaningful joy:

Eid in human societies and their customs and traditions are social seasons, and Islam came to designate Eid al-Fitr as a day of celebration characterized by joy and glad tidings, wanting for the Muslim individual and society to be overwhelmed with joy and happiness, living the feelings and emotions, but intended to be for the success in obedience and in a lawful manner, not for the joy and happiness to arise from committing prohibitions or to manifest through committing sins and perpetrating evils.

And from the harmful customs to Islamic Eids is what happens from shooting and fireworks and other harmful and sinful manifestations.

Islam wants for the person to rejoice but not to exceed the limits of obedience, and for their joy to be meaningful by enhancing human relations through visits, spreading peace, greetings, and maintaining kinship.

  1. The day of spreading joy: One of the most severe and dangerous human ailments is selfishness and self-love, where a person is engulfed in their own concerns, joys, and sorrows without regard for others. Ramadan serves as a means to awaken the feeling of sharing from the rich towards the poor “so the rich may feel the hunger and thus have mercy on the poor.”

Likewise, on Eid day, Islam educates its followers not to monopolize joy and limit it to themselves and their close ones but to strive to spread joy. From this source comes the Zakat al-Fitr to be a means by which Islam brings joy to sorrowful hearts due to poverty and need, hoping to clothe the poor’s children in new garments and treat them with delightful food.

Islam has legislated a set of etiquettes specifically for Eids, transforming them from mere customs to acts of worship, including greetings, enhancing the state of affection among them, and if there were anything to disturb the relationship, initiating greetings and competing in doing so with a cheerful face contributes to clearing any ill feelings that the devil might have caused, adding greetings and cheerfulness to handshaking strengthens in clearing the hearts of any resentment…

Moreover, it is noteworthy that it is recommended for a person to take one route to the Eid prayer location and return by another, possibly to meet with more people and exchange greetings and blessings.

However, it must be noted that in the Qunut of Eid prayer, there is a connection for the person with those who have bestowed favor upon them, starting with Allah, then with the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, and then with the Imams, peace be upon them. This is also symbolized by the recommended visitation of Imam Hussein, peace be upon him, on every Eid, as well as the Dua Al-Nudba.

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