In recognition and celebration of the diversity of human spirituality, the Monks Without Borders Newsletter will provide regular information on the special days of the world’s religions as they arrive throughout the year. The following information was provided by Common Tables in the form of an interfaith eLert. More information about this service and the work of Common Tables can be obtained at http://www.commontables.org

Eid ul-Fitr – Muslim

Muslims have two major religious holidays each year: Eid ul-Fitr (“The Festival of Fast-Breaking”) which follows the observance of Ramadan and Eid ul-Adha (“The Festival of Sacrifice”) at the end of the Hajj.

Eid ul-Fitr (pronounced EED al-fitter) – Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity”, while Fitr means “to break” signifying the breaking of the fasting period and of all evil habits. Eid ul-Fitr marks the closing of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, and the conclusion of a month-long progression towards a higher spiritual state.

Eid ul-Fitr is a joyous daylong celebration of thanksgiving. Muslims dress in their finest clothes, adorn their homes with lights and decorations, and enjoy time with friends and family.

Although Eid ul-Fitr is always on the first day of Shawwal (the tenth month) of the Islamic calendar (a lunar calendar), the date on the Gregorian calendar (a solar calendar) falls 10 to 11 days earlier each year. For 2009, Eid ul-Fitr falls on Sunday, September 20th.  

Note: Muslim holidays begin at sunset on the previous day, so this year observing Muslims will celebrate Eid ul-Fitr beginning at sunset on September 19th.

On Eid ul-Fitr, Muslims typically wake up early and end their month long fast wtih a small breakfast. They then head to a large field or open area or to a local mosque to attend salah, a special Eid prayer that is performed in congregation.

The Eid prayer is followed by a sermon (khutbah) and a supplication (dua) asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for all living beings throughout the world. When dua is completed, it is customary to greet and embrace the persons sitting on either side of you. 

While charity is always important in Islam, it has special meaning at this time of the year. Before the Eid prayer begins, every Muslim who is able is obligated to pay “Zakat al-fitr”, a sum equal to about 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) of a basic foodstuff or its cash equivalent. Zakat al-fitr is typically collected at the mosque and is distributed to needy Muslims.

Traditional Greeting: Eid mubarak (EED moo-BAR-ak) is a greeting specifically for use on the festivals of Eid ul-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr. The phrase can be paraphrased in English as meaning “may you enjoy a blessed festival”.

Adherents.com places the number of Muslims globally at 1.5 billion; however, they also note that contemporary figures place the number in a wide range between 1 billion and 1.8 billion – with numbers at the lower end of the range being somewhat dated.  

After sunset on September 19th, we ask that you join with us as we pause to send feelings of love and good will to our Muslim brothers and sisters during the joyous festival of Eid ul-Fitr.

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