What is Eid al-Fitr and when does it begin?
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Eid al Fitr sees Muslims everywhere conclude the month-long fasting of Ramadan, which they use to nurture their inner spirituality once a year. The occasion serves as an opportunity for them to resist the pleasures of daily life and commit to religious practice. Eid al Fitr breaks this fast and allows people to enjoy some of their favourite things once more with planned celebrations.
How many days is Eid al Fitr?
Ramadan requires all able, healthy Muslims to dedicate themselves from dawn until dusk each day.
They have two designated times – once before dawn and another when the sun sets – to break their fast.
Otherwise, they will spend Ramadan’s 29 to 30 days not eating or drinking, and Eid al Fitr guarantees the opposite.
Ramadan lasts for less than a week, as it ends on Wednesday, May 12 this year.
But May 12 is a placeholder date, as Eid doesn’t begin until the new moon rises.
From then, Eid al Fitr takes over for several days’ worth of celebrating.
The length of the occasion will vary between countries, but it is typically one to three days in total.
Before they start, Muslims have a little preparation to do, however.
As the celebration begins, Muslims participate in Fajr, a set of dawn prayers, which they perform alongside their family members.
These take place before the ghusl, ritualistic body cleansing.
The family then prepares for the day by donning their finest outfits.
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During non-Covid circumstances, Eid al Fitr traditionally sees Muslim families meet and celebrate together.
They congregate at local mosques and wish one another “Eid Mubarak”, which translates to “blessed feast”.
Over the next two or three days, they will exchange gifts, gather to celebrate outside, and eat food, although Covid restrictions currently prevent significant gatherings.
Islam prohibits fasting on the first day of Eid al Fitr.
While Eid is a time of indulgence, Muslims also donate to charity.
Practising Muslims will take the time to provide alms in an act known as zakat.
Zakat gifts show the donor has faith in Allah and does not rely on material possessions.
People may also provide waqf, and endow money on land or towards the maintenance of mosques, shrines, schools and other buildings in Muslim lands.
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