Eid – The Day of Prize Giving
What to do to receive a prize on Eid and
not to Return EmptyHanded
Preparation for Eid
As Ramadaan goes in to its second half, many of us are now focused on Eid preparations. Our next two days will be dedicated to shopping for the latest designer clothing; for females, the spare time will be spent in acquiring the latest recipe books and thinking up ways of preparing an exotic Eid luncheon, the smokers will already be counting down the days when they can resume their smoking in the daytime, the children will already be eagerly asking their parents: Mummy, what Eidy am I getting this year? and sadly, many modern Muslims will be secretly happy that after Eid, they can do away with their modest clothing and again jump into their mini-skirts and low-line tops!
It is true that Eid means recurring happiness or festivity, but is the festivity only about good clothes and food? Our Eid is unique from other days of festivity in every way. It is not a day of senseless merry making and becoming intoxicated like the non-Muslims indulge in over Christmas and Easter, but rather a wholesome celebration of a remarkable achievement of the individual Muslim in the service of Allah. As the ‘Eidul Fitr comes after an entire month of fasting during the day and salaat during the night, it is a month where the discipline acquired by voluntary abstention from lawful food and drink can be carried over to compulsory abstention from all types of sins throughout the year.
The month of Ramadaan is not a month to be a proper Muslim. Rather, it is a month to prepare and exercise in becoming a proper Muslim for the rest of the 11 months of the year. It is to live as a proper Muslim and not regarding salaat, wearing the beards, donning scarves and kurtas as only reserved for Ramadaan.
Islam is not a seasonal religion, it is an all-year religion.
Nature of the day of Eid
On the day of Eid, Muslims are thankful for the grace of Allah which carried them through the month of earnest, joyous labour, of constant, faithful toil, spent in fasting and Quranic recitation. Ramadhan has been reserved for the Fasting and its end has been earmarked for rejoicing:
‘O mankind, now there has come unto you an admonition from your Lord, and a healing for all that you may rejoice; for it is better than all that they may amass! (10:57-58)
The Eid echoes the Quranic call loud and clear:
That you complete the number (of Fasts) and proclaim the greatness of God for having guided you, and so that you may render thanks and rejoice’ (Al-Quran 2:185). How abundant are His bounties on us, and how complete is Allahs love for us and how perfect is the Quran as a guide for us.
Indeed no festival is like Eid. Some celebrations centre their festivities on the memory of one person, but not Eid: it does not celebrate even the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Rather, it celebrates the sending down the word of Allah, the Quran, and its triumph. Some rejoice in the beginning of the New Year, but not Eid; it rejoices in the ushering of a new dawn for mankind of light and peace. Some celebrate the end of the dark winter days and the coming of the spring light and warmth, but not Eid; it celebrates the end of ignorance and the coming of justice and equality. Some give thanks for the harvest of grain, fruit or cattle, but not Eid; it gives thanks for the harvest of the richest blessings of Allah for the soul and the intellect, for the mind as well as the heart, for living and good conduct.
Collecting the prize on Eid day
In order to achieve the benefits of Eid, we should utilize our time in Ramadhan properly whence an obligatory good deed increases seventy fold; a voluntary (nafll) deed becomes like the obligatory (fardh); the doors of hell are closed, all the evil satans are chained and the doors of paradise are thrown wide opened. It is only upto us to enter it via our keys of goodness.
The Holy Prophet used to strive hard (in worship) during the last ten days of Ramadaan in a way that he did not strive at any other times. (Muslim, 1175) Aaishah reports that when the last ten days of Ramadaan came, the Prophet would stay up at night, wake his family and gird his loins. (Bukhari, 1920)
Her phrase girded his loins is a metaphor for his preparing himself to worship and strive hard in worship, more than usual. It has the meaning of rolling up one’s sleeves to worship (i.e. getting ready to make a great deal of effort).
It is reported that Aaishah also said: I never saw the Prophet recite the entire Quraan in one night, or spend a whole night in prayer until the morning, or fast an entire month, except in Ramadaan. (Sunan al-Nasaai, 1641).
Especially the last ten days in Ramadaan, is a time to reap in earnest for two reasons:
1. The first reason is that it has a night better than a thousand months, called Lailatul Qadr.. Allah sent down the Quran on this night on to the Preserved Tablet (lawh-e-mahfooz) and it is a night of ordainments, meaning that on this night, the destiny of all creatures for the coming year is decreed. On that night it is written who will live, who will die, who will be saved, who will be doomed, who will be destined for Paradise, who will be destined for Hell, who will be granted honour, who will be humiliated, where drought and famine will occur, and everything else that Allah wills in that year.
The meaning of Qadr is veneration or honour and the one who stays up during this night becomes a man of honour. It is also a night of forgiveness as it was reported from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: Whoever stays up during Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven. (Muslim, 760).
On this night, Angel Jibraeel as well as numerous other angels descend and they surround the circles of dhikr and they beat their wings for the one who sincerely seeks repentance, knowledge or anything else. It is mustahabb to seek it during the last ten nights of the month. It is more likely to be one of the odd-numbered nights, because of the hadeeth of Aaishah who said that the Messenger of Allah said: Seek Laylat al-Qadr in the odd-numbered nights of the last ten nights. (Bukhari, 4/259)
However, there are some indications for the night. One of it is that when the sun rises on the following morning, it has no (visible) rays i.e. it rises red and weak. Another sign is that it is a very calm and pleasant night, neither hot nor cold.
2. The Itikaaf is observed at the Masjid for males and for females in their homes. As Ramadaan departs, sadness grows in the heart and tears pour from the eyes, and what better way to bid farewell than sitting in seclusion and making optimum use of the last ten nights.
What corrupts the heart most is distractions and preoccupations such as food, drink, talking too much, sleeping too much and socializing too much. Allah has prescribed acts of worship, such as fasting, to protect the heart from the negative effects of these distractions. Similarly, just as fasting is a shield which protects the heart from the influences of physical distractions, Itikaaf offers protection from the effects of excessive socializing. Many people take socializing to extremes, until it has a similar to that of over-eating. Itikaaf also offers protection from the evil consequences of talking too much as it is an individual worship. It also offers protection from sleeping too much, because when a person makes Itikaaf in the mosque, he devotes his time to drawing closer to Allah by doing different kinds of acts of worship; he does not stay in the mosque to sleep.
The Prophet used to have a tent put up for him in Masjidun Nabawi and he would stay in it, apart from the times of prayer, so that he could be truly secluded. He used to stay in the mosque all the time and not go out except in the case of human need. His food and drink would be brought to him.
This year, as we scan the sky for Eid crescent and wait for the siren to sound, let us be hopeful that we have reaped the benefits of Ramadaan. Indeed, the day of Eid is also called yaum al-jaza (the prize-giving day) and prizes are only dished out to the deserving. What prize are we going to carry away? A ½ kilogram plain wrapped gift, an impressive one in a container or nothing at all.
The decision is ours!
Maulana Khalid Dhorat