What is Eid and how do Muslims celebrate it? 6 questions answered
Source: Religion News Service
By Kent Chitwood
Editor’s note: Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, one of the religion’s principal festivals. In August, Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Adha. Ken Chitwood, a scholar of global Islam, explains the two Islamic festivals.
1. What is Eid?
Eid literally means a “festival” or “feast” in Arabic. There are two major eids in the Islamic calendar per year – Eid al-Fitr earlier in the year and Eid al-Adha later.
Eid al-Fitr is a three-day-long festival and is known as the “Lesser” or “Smaller Eid” when compared to Eid al-Adha, which is four-days-long and is known as the “Greater Eid.”
2. Why is Eid celebrated twice a year?
The two Eids recognize, celebrate and recall two distinct events that are significant to the story of Islam.
Eid al-Fitr means “the feast of breaking the fast.” The fast, in this instance, is Ramadan, which recalls the revealing of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad and requires Muslims to fast from sunrise to sundown for a month.
3. How do Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr?
Eid al-Fitr features two to three days of celebrations that include special morning prayers. People greet each other with “Eid Mubarak,” meaning “Blessed Eid” and with formal embraces. Sweet dishes are prepared at home and gifts are given to children and to those in need. In addition, Muslims are encouraged to forgive and seek forgiveness. Practices vary from country to country.
In many countries with large Muslim populations, Eid al-Fitr is a national holiday. Schools, offices and businesses are closed so family, friends and neighbors can enjoy the celebrations together. In the U.S. and the U.K., Muslims may request to have the day off from school or work to travel or celebrate with family and friends.