Living in the 21st century it is not surprising that so many religions and ideologies exist in the world today. Even though there are so many religions, each is distinguished by its own customs, traditions and celebrations. For example, the Christians celebrate Christmas and the Jews celebrate Hanukah. And while the Hindus celebrate Divali, the Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year. However, it is very strange that none of these celebrations, traditions, and customs are supported by any authentic source that exists in their ideologies and/or religions.
Crusading through the history of time, we have realized that the advent of Islam has played a magnificent and important role on millions of lives. Even though the history of Islam is enriched with great events and glorious moments, us Muslims only celebrate twice a year. Why?
It has been reported by Hazrat Anas (ra): "When the Prophet of Allah (saw) came to Madinah he noticed that the people used to celebrate two days. He asked them: ‘Why do you celebrate these two days?' They replied: ‘We have been celebrating these two days since the days of ignorance.' Thereafter the Prophet of Allah (saw) responded to them, saying: ‘Allah (swt) has changed these two days with two better days, ‘Eid-ul-Adha and ‘Eid-ul-Fitr,'" (Targheeb wa tarheeb)
THE NIGHT PRECEDING ‘EID-UL-FITR
Even though this night has been named Lailatul Jaiza (the night of reward), it is unfortunate that us Muslims do not take advantage of such an opputunity to gain reward and blessings. Rather, at times we get so engaged in renting cars, shopping for nice clothes, applying henna etc., that we become negligent of the commands of Allah (swt). The scholars have stated that Allah (swt) rewards His fasting slaves on this very night, by accepting one's du‘as. Thus a person's every wish and prayer will be granted. Therefore one should perform nafl, recite Qur'an and perform zikr on this night. The Holy Prophet (saw) is also reported to have said: "Whoever stands up (in worship) in the night preceding the two eids expecting reward form Allah, his heart will not die when other hearts will die," (Ibn Majah). In order to benefit and gain blessings from this night one should strive to perform a great number of good deeds on this sacred occasion.
ON THE DAY OF ‘EID-UL-FITR
To perform the following on the day of ‘Eid are Sunnah:
- To wake up early.
- To use Miswak.
- To take a shower.
- To put on one's best clothes.
- To use ‘Itr (Scent).
- To eat something sweet, preferably dates before the ‘Eid prayer.
- To recite Takbir-ut-Tashriq (Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Illallahu, Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahilhamd) in a loud voice while going to the ‘Eid prayer.
- To proceed to the ‘Eid prayer one way and to return home from another way.
THE FASTING OF SIX DAYS IN THE MONTH OF SHAWWAL.
The Prophet (saw) said, "Whoever completes the fast of Ramadan and then fasts an additional six days in the month of Shawwal, he will be entitled to a reward just as if he had fasted throughout the entire year," (Muslim).
The scholars of Islam, commentating on this tradition have stated, that every good deed is multiplied by ten. The Holy Qur`an states: "Whoever performs a good deed, shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit."(Surah An‘am, verse 160). Therefore the reward for fasting during the month of Ramadan (for thirty days) amounts, or is equal to the fasting of 300 days. If the fast of Ramadan is followed by six additional fasts in the month of Shawwal (the month following Ramadan) A person will be entitled to a reward just as if he fasted 360 days - an entire year (300 for Ramadan, 60 for the six fasts of Shawwal). Nevertheless we should try to use this opportunity in acquiring such a magnificent reward.