The celebration of Eid ul-Fitr culminates a month of fasting wherein the faithful have spent their time praying and beseeching God for forgiveness and mercy. For many, Ramadan was not just an abstention from food and drink. Rather, it was an exercise in patience and discipline. Eid is the celebration for those who fasted and obeyed God's rules and teachings. It is for those who spent the month of Ramadan in complete devotion to Allah. Eid is a time when the entire Muslim community comes together to share in each others joy and blessings and also to lessen the burden of those who may be suffering.
It is preceded by people shopping and looking around for gifts for their near and dear ones. It is a time when the bright lights from homes and shops illuminates our life. We use see this day and the following days to spread happiness and social harmony by visiting our friends and relatives.
Gifts are exchanged during Eid by young and old alike. We also visit the elderly and the sick. Eid is a time where all kinds or festivities prevail. Many of us gormandize to make up for "lost food" during the month of Ramadan.
However, with all the going around we some time forget our lesser privileged brethren. We forget that there are many out there who have nothing to celebrate. There are those among our brothers and sisters for whom Eid day is just another ordinary day. There are those who open their cupboards on Eid day and find them bare. There are those who in hospitals who will go through a bleak and lonely day with no one visiting them. Friendless, deprived of company, they will have no one to offer solace or comfort. Let us therefore see to it that our deprived brethren welcome the day of Eid with warmth and hope.
As we buy gifts and clothes for our children, let us earmark a special sum for those who cannot afford to buy. Also we should instill in our children a sense of compassion so that when they buy something they will also think of their unfortunate brethren. Let us teach them the art of giving. We should let them know that there are millions of children in; war torn areas of Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Kashmir and Chechnya, the poor and downtrodden areas of Africa, Asia and South America, and even in the forgotten ghettos of Europe and North America who do not have the basic necessities to make this day a different day.
We cannot divest ourselves from the misery of others. We cannot shrug it off saying that it does not concern us. To do this would be an injustice to humanity. The Quran (5:8) tells us ... Be just: that is next to piety.
Many of us donate money to charity and fulfill our religious duty. However, if we actually meet the recipients of our charity the perception of charity changes. There is a feeling of belonging when the recipient and giver meet.
Islamic ideology teaches us to be kind and compassionate. Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that "I and the provider of the orphan will be together." And what greater prize is there for anyone of us than to be around our beloved prophet. All we need for that is compassion, sincerity and a feeling of brotherhood and understanding. And that will decide the quality of our life on earth and the hereafter.
Adapted from Spirit of Eid Al-Fitr by Khaled al-Maeena
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