Feast of Fitr (Eid al-Fitr) is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal [i]. It marks the end of Ramadan, the month in which Muslims practice fasting (Sawm). This Feast (Eid) is considered one of the most prominent occasions in the Islamic calendar and is celebrated by all Muslims around the world. But what is it that makes this feast (Eid) a special day for Muslims?
“Eid” is derived from the verb “عَوَدَ: Avad’ah” in Arabic, which literally means “to go back”. In Islamic culture, days in which people have been relieved of hardships and catastrophes, and go back to good days of prosperity and happiness, are called Eid.
Two features make The First of Shawwal, Eid or as we call it the Feast of Fitr:
On this day, Muslims are again allowed to eat and drink, and the obligation to fast is lifted from them. In fact, the word “Fitr” literally means “beginning to eat and drink”. And “Iftar” means to start eating and drinking after some time. Now consider Eid al-Fitr something like daily Iftar, but on a greater scale. This is Iftar after a whole month of fasting.
Feast of Fitr (Eid al-Fitr) is a special day. A day that is chosen by Allah. After a month of submission to His will and doing what it takes to get nearer to Him, and win His satisfaction, now is the time to enjoy the outcome. Allah pardons our sins, spreads His forgiveness and rains down His blessings.
As He has promised in the Quran, “…forgiveness and a great reward” (35:33) are prepared for those who fast. This is, indeed, a blessing that comes true in this world. A pleasure that Muslims experience in this world, as well as Hereafter.
So why not be happy on this day? This is a new day for Muslims, in which they go back to the time when they had not committed any sins yet. Feast of Fitr (Eid al-Fitr) is a chance for them to start over.
To start fresh, one should put behind old habits, those actions that harmed one’s self or were harmful to others. Now that we are relieved from the burden of our mistakes, sins, and regrets, born again, pure and innocent, we should protect this gift dearly. From this day on, what counts is our future actions [ii].
On the day of Eid, Muslims are required to pay a certain amount of money if they can afford, that is called Zakat al-Fitr. Giving Zakat al-Fitr is obligatory, provided that the person him/herself is not poor. It marks the fulfillment of the act of fasting.
The amount of this kind of charity depends on the type of usual main food consumed by the believer during the year, which may be rice, wheat, barley, dates, etc. . This amount is given to the poor people of the society or those who are underprivileged.
Feast of Fitr (Eid al-Fitr) is the realization of the lessons Muslims have learned during the 30-day fasting of Ramadan. Muslims give away part of what they consume daily of food or drinks to the poor and destitute. And they learn that in this world there are things that are far more important than bodily desires. That is humanity and the love for human beings.
Moreover, Ramadan is a time for Muslims to wash away themselves from the vices of this world. Similarly, Zakat frees the soul from the weakness of depending too much on material matters and thus, is a way to complete the effect of fasting.
Allah has given us the chance to become a new person and mark a turning point in our lives. Shouldn’t we be grateful for this reward? We praise Allah “for He has shown us the Right Path.” And give thanks “to Him for that which He has conferred upon us” [iii]. This is where the prayer of Eid al-Fitr finds its meaning.
One of the recommended acts on this day is to perform a two-unit (Raka’a) prayer. Muslims all around the world, gather together in their mosques and form a great and unified social occasion. In the Qunut [v] of this prayer, we give thanks to Allah for pardoning our previous sins. And we ask for His help in doing what is good and in protecting our newly gifted purity in the future.
Imam Ali (AS) believed that Muslims should be reminded of the Day of Judgment, at the time of standing for the prayer of Eid al-Fitr. As if they are standing in front of Allah [iv].
Eid is a going back, a change to a better self. So whenever one keeps him/herself from committing sins, from lying, backbiting, slandering, offending, etc. he/ she is celebrating an Eid. Similarly, the day of Eid loses its meaning if one goes on to do whatever wrong he/she used to do. As Imam Ali (AS) puts: “Any day that you do not disobey Allah (or commit sins) is your Eid”.
[i] Tenth month of the Islamic Calendar.
[ii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “ O’ servants of Allah! Beware that the least outcome for the fasting men and women is that on the last day of Ramadan, an angel would call upon them that ‘O’ servants of Allah! I bring you the glad tidings of Allah’s pardon of your past sins, so be careful how you act from now on” .
[iii] It is a famous invocation from Imam Reza (AS) remained from Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah:
"اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ لا إِلَهَ إِلا اللَّهُ وَ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ وَ لِلَّهِ الْحَمْدُ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلَى مَا هَدَانَا وَ لَهُ الشُّكْرُ عَلَى مَا أَوْلانَا"
“Allah is Great. Allah is Great. There is no god save Allah. And Allah is Great.Allah is Great. All praise be to Allah. All praise be to Allah for He has shown us the Right Path. All thanks be to Him for that which He has conferred upon us”
[iv] Imam Ali (AS) said: “when you leave your houses to perform Eid’s prayer, remember the time when you are resurrected from your graves and go toward Allah. When you stand to perform the prayer, think of the time you are facing divine justice and are examined for your actions. When you go back to your houses from the prayer, remember the time when you go back to your dwelling places in heaven” .
[v] The action of reciting a supplication while keeping the hands in front of the face, turning the palms facing upwards, and keeping both the hands and the fingers close together in the standing position of prayer (Salat).
- Sheikh al-Saduq, Al-Amali, p.100, hadith no. 10.
- Yasin T. Al-Jibouri, Fast of the Month of Ramadhan: Philosophy and Ahkam, p. 111.
- Eid al Fitr
- Nahj al-Balaghah, wisdom no. 428.
After an exhausting day of unending work, you decide to have a night out with your friends. And you end up in a nightclub or casino where you can enjoy your time by playing a fun and simple-looking game. In no time you find yourself engaged in a gamble which seems to be going on forever. And you end up either losing the money – no matter how much - you have gained through too much effort, or achieve some money without doing any profitable action in return. That is only one instance of this kind of so-called fun called gambling. Though, it sometimes turns out to be much more than simple entertainment and results in losing one’s whole living in a matter of a few seconds. But does Islam allow its followers to go through such an experience? The answer is a definite No [i] & [ii], for this is a lose-lose situation for both parties, financially and psychologically, even though it may not look so. In this matter, Islam, as always plans what is best for the lives of human beings. Let’s regard this issue in depth. Is Gambling in Islam Allowed?
According to all Islamic jurists, games that include the special means of gambling such as cards, backgammon, etc. are forbidden if they are accompanied with betting. Moreover, every kind of game that is played through betting is forbidden. Nevertheless, some scholars believe that playing with the special means of gambling, even without betting, is not allowed [iii]&. This is because the one who plays with particular means of gambling will automatically be accused of betting or may seem like doing it.
The adverse effects of gambling on one’s life as well as the society he/she lives in are many and have been mentioned by many Islamic and/or non-Islamic scholars.
According to a study done in the United States, “more than $5 billion has been lost each year to gambling addictions. In addition, $40 billion has been spent on social services and creditor losses. These studies go on to state that two out of three gambling addicts will engage in illegal acts to pay for their gambling debts. The effect is that the addiction places a severe hardship on prison systems, public assistance programs and legal systems” .
Lose of credit and job is only one among many financial losses that are caused by gambling on an individual but it will not be limited to him/her and requires the society to take care of him/her. Moreover, when a game turns to a real-life lose or win, the one who engages in it sees his/her opponent as a real-life enemy whom he/she needs to defeat. This, as a result, spreads the feeling of enmity, avarice, and vengeance within the society . Quran also emphasizes the evilness of this action: “Indeed Satan seeks to cast enmity and hatred among you through wine and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and prayer. Will you, then, relinquish?” (5:91).
No matter you lose or win in this game, the effect would be detrimental for you. Let’s say you are a very lucky person and win every time you gamble, what would you do with the growing sense of greed for money? Or with this incessant desire to gamble more and more to the point that you cannot think about anything except gambling? Losing also brings its own destructive results; aside from losing the money that you could spend in a much useful way for yourself or your family, you lose your own self-confidence and feel undermined.
The pressure that is inflicted upon the gambler will inevitably lead to physical problems. According to a study, “the stress of gambling problems sometimes causes health problems, for both the person who gambles and the family. This can include anxiety, depression and stress-related problems such as poor sleep, ulcers, bowel problems, headaches, and muscle pains”. Also, in some cases this mental pressure caused the individual to feel suicidal and want to end his/her life .
When your mind is occupied with gaining more money, how to beat your opponent on the next gamble or how to pay your debts, no place will remain for you to turn and remind yourself of your duty toward Allah and His mercy upon you. And when Allah is absent from your heart and mind, the result is the constant feeling of insecurity and stress, for: “…The hearts find rest in Allah’s remembrance!”(13:28).
Finally, gambling is the cause of many harms to the individual as well as the society. Based on a general rule in Islam, no one is allowed to either “cause harm or return harm”  to him/herself or others. As it was mentioned above, gambling brings many financial as well as psychological complexities for the people involved in it and the society they live in. Therefore Islam does not allow its followers to bear such disadvantages.
[i] (2:219), (5:90).
[ii] Imam Reza (AS) Said: “Allah forbids His followers from any kind of gambling and ordered them to refuse doing them and called them impure and evil…” .
[iii] It is important to note that for the participants in horse racing and archery the action of betting is allowed . The reason for that was Islam’s attention to the importance of learning the martial arts for Muslims.
Being a Muslim and living in or traveling to non-Muslim countries, always brings about the challenge of where to eat and what to eat. For Muslims who are adventurous eaters, food is not just something to provide energy for a more useful life, although that would be the desire for a real Muslim believer. But here we are not discussing such high levels of faith.
Here we are just Muslims in non-Muslim countries, facing different cultures and tastes and those giant advertised burgers, seafood, various kinds of Italian Pizza, etc., and at some point, we realize that we are not capable of going home and enjoying our toast and fried eggs. That is where we seek an inspiring call, inviting us to eat and enjoy life, and that is where that verse of the holy Quran echoes in our minds: “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which he has produced for his servants and the good (lawful) things of provision?”(7:32) and thus, we decide to find those “lawful provisions”; The Halal food.
Finding restaurants of all types in all different parts of the world that serve Halal food is not a difficult job these days. From the Far West to the Far East we can see restaurants with a Halal label on their signs. But have you ever happened to ask the restaurant staff if the food is Halal? And have you ever heard the firm reply “Yes, madam. Feel sure. Even our pork is Halal!” This point, my friends, is where our project of finding a real Halal restaurant begins.
In some non-Muslim countries, the population of Muslims in some specific cities or specific areas of the town is quite noticeable. Often, in these areas, the number of Halal restaurants owned and run by Muslim managers is large. We could usually trust these restaurants as the managers care about Islamic law, and therefore the food they serve.
However, in some western countries, my friends and I have come across restaurants in which their managers came from Islamic countries, and so we thought that the food would be Halal. But after some local investigations, we realized that the manager is not a practicing Muslim, and the food they serve is not Halal. Now, what do we do?
Since selling Halal food brings more customers to the burger shops or restaurants, many non-Muslim restaurant owners have decided to serve Halal meat. Therefore, apart from the Halal label on their signs, they keep a certificate in the restaurants, usually hung on the wall someplace all caring customers can see.
Now you might be thinking about how we can trust those certificates? How do we know they are not fake? From the Islamic law viewpoint, you can trust that and enjoy your meal . Do keep in mind the verse that says: “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…” (2:185)
Even in some coffee shops that serve sandwiches, the managers have provided an extra sandwich-maker for Muslim customers with which they do not roast pork and other non-Halal sandwiches.
Living in a non-Muslim country, it is prevalent to socialize with non-Muslim friends or colleagues. It often happens that our group of friends or colleagues decide to dine together at a fancy restaurant that may not be Halal. It is understandable that isolating yourself from the group may have some personal or social consequences. What can we do at these times?
First of all, we can remind the rest of the group that we only eat Halal food, and they may agree to dine at a Halal restaurant. But if they did not accept, what does Islamic law say about eating vegetarian or Halal food in restaurants that serve pork or wine? According to Islamic law, if we did not have a choice, we should not be too harsh on ourselves, and we should trust the vegetarian or Halal food of non-Halal restaurants .
Thinking deeply of the verse “Then let mankind look at his food.” (80:24), one may realize the importance of the food we eat and its influence on the human soul. Apart from Islamic law, almost all Muslim jurists emphasize that we should be extra careful about what we eat. Because what we eat affects our souls.
Therefore if we intend to treat our souls and ascend the steps of spirituality, it is necessary to find food we are sure of is Halal. In such cases, it would be good to be fussy about eating in non-Halal places. And if the spirituality of the soul matters to us more than socializing with friends, then better to be isolated for a while, rather than preventing the soul from its spiritual growth.