Muslims around the world will soon celebrate a holiday called Eid al-Fitr, which means the “Holiday of the Feast.” It is one of the most important Islamic holidays. This holiday, which begins Thursday, lasts three days, with the first day commemorating the close of Ramadan. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and intimacy with their spouses from dawn to sunset. They assemble in the mosque in the evening for a special congregational prayer known as taraweeh. In addition to fasting, many Muslims devote the whole month of Ramadan to praying throughout the night, giving charity and doing good deeds. One might think that Muslims are glad that Ramadan is over. However, as Ramadan draws to a close, many people experience sorrow. Ramadan is a time where many draw closer to God, improve themselves and feel more connected to their spiritual side.


Mahmood Nadvi, left, standing on the rooftop, delivers Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, at King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, Calif., last May 16. In the midst of pandemic lockdown, many mosques in Southern California got permission from local authorities to broadcast Adhan. Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via TNS

Ramadan is not only about refraining from food and drink, but also about abstaining from evil thoughts, words and actions. Ramadan is unique in that these acts of devotion are performed collectively. Everyone is observing a fast, praying and attempting to break their bad habits. It fosters an environment in which people are motivated and assisted in their efforts to improve themselves.

Ramadan, on the other hand, is special in that it lasts only one month. It would lose its significance if it were more than that. It’s a short but high-intensity month of life change. Since Ramadan is a month of fasting and abstinence from food and drink during daylight hours, Eid is a time to honor all who have worked hard, and they celebrate by eating, drinking and being with family.

Every family and culture around the world have their own Eid traditions, but they all start with Eid prayers in the mosque in the morning. These prayers are usually large and also held in large venues such as a park or stadium, but COVID likely  changed everything this year. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims donate a small sum of money to charity near the end of Ramadan, around $10 per person, which goes to the needy. This charity is designed to help those less fortunate celebrate Eid, buy new clothes, or gifts for their children. Muslims remember the less fortunate even as they rejoice. This charity is intended to alleviate the suffering of the poor and others who have little to celebrate.

On Eid, Muslims wear their best clothes. The new clothing represents spiritual renewal. The person leaves Ramadan, a month of self-discipline, in a more beautified spiritual state. Food is an important part of Eid because it is the first time in 30 days that Muslims can eat during daylight hours. Following the Eid prayer, most Muslims spend their day with family and friends, share gifts and meals. Many mosques provide toys to all children who attend prayers. Various Muslim cultures have their own unique Eid sweets. Visiting relatives and friends to celebrate together, share happiness and spread peace is customary on this day.

This year, Muslims will celebrate Eid while observing social distancing. The availability of the vaccine has given many families a sense of assurance in celebrating and being with family.

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