Saturday, September 19, 2009
Eid ul-Fitr (Aidil Fitri), September 20-21
As our Muslim brothers and sisters end their long fast during the holy month of Ramadan, we take this opportunity to wish them 'Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri!"
What is Eid ul Fitr or Aidil Fitri?
Eid ul-Fitr or Id-ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر ‘Īdu l-Fiṭr), often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity", while Fiṭr means "to break the fast" (and can also mean "nature", from the word "fitrah"); and so the holiday symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. It is celebrated starting on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal.
Eid ul-Fitr is a three day celebration and is sometimes also known as the "Smaller Eid" (Arabic: العيد الصغير al-‘īdu ṣ-ṣaghīr) as compared to the Eid ul-Adha that lasts four days and is called the "Greater Eid" (Arabic: العيد الكبير al-‘īdu l-kabīr).
Muslims are commanded by the Qur'an to complete their fast on the last day of Ramadan and then recite the Takbir all throughout the period of Eid. The Takbir is recited after having confirmation that the moon of Shawwal is sighted on the eve of the last day of Ramadan. It continues until the start of the Eid prayer. The Takbir consists of:
Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر
laa ilaaha illAllaah لا إله إلا الله
Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر
wa li-illaahil-hamd ولله الحمد
God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest,
There is no deity but God
God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest
and to God goes all praise
Eid-ul-Fitr is a unique festival. It has no connection with any historical event nor is it related to the changes of seasons or cycles of agriculture. It is not a festival related in any way to worldly affairs.
Its significance is purely spiritual. It is the day when the Muslims thank God for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe fast and obey His commandment during the holy month of Ramadan.
This day, in Muslim world, brings rejoicing and happiness. The rejoicing is not, however, at the departure of the month of Ramadan; it is the happiness which man feels after successfully completing an important task.
In Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Eid is also commonly known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri,Hari Otak, Hari Raya Idul Fitri or Hari Raya Puasa. Hari Raya literally means 'Day of Celebration' i.e. 'The Day'. Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore celebrate Eid like other Muslims throughout the world. It is the biggest holiday in Indonesia and Malaysia and is the most awaited one. Shopping malls and bazaars are filled with people days ahead of Hari Raya, causing a distinctive festive atmosphere throughout the country. Many banks, government and private offices are closed for this holiday, which usually lasts a week.
The night before Eid is with the takbir which is held in the mosques or musallas. In many parts of Indonesia as well as Malaysia, especially in rural areas, pelita or panjut (oil lamps) are lit up in house compounds. Eid also witnesses a huge migratory pattern of Muslims, from big metropolitan cities to rural areas. This is known as balik kampung or pulang kampung in Indonesian — literally going back to home town to celebrate Eid with one's parents. Special dishes like ketupat, dodol, lemang (a type of glutinous rice cake cooked in bamboo) and other Indo-Malay delicacies are served during this day.
It is common to greet people with "Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri" or "Salam Aidilfitri" which means "Happy Eid". Muslims also greet one another with "maaf lahir dan batin" in Indonesian and "maaf zahir dan batin" in Malaysian, which means "Forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)", because Eid ul-Fitr is not only for celebrations but also the time for Muslims to cleanse their sins and strengthen their ties with relatives and friends.
It is customary for Indonesians and Malays to wear traditional cultural outfits on the Eid. The outfit for men is called baju melayu or baju koko in Indonesia which is worn together with kain samping (made out of songket) and songkok (a dark coloured headgear); in Indonesia the men will usually wear pants with similar color to the shirt or (normal black pants) and a (black head cover called) [Peci]. The women in Indonesia and Malaysia wear what is known as baju kurung and baju kebaya. It is also common to see non-Malay Muslims wear costumes of their culture.
Once the prayer is completed, it is also common for Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia to visit the graves of loved ones. During this visit, they clean the grave, recite Ya-Seen, a chapter (surah) from the Qur'an and also perform the tahlil ceremony. All these are done to ask for God to forgive the dead and also those who are living.
The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives or serving visitors. Eid ul-Fitr is a very joyous day for children for on this day adults are especially generous. Children will be given token sums of money, also known as "duit raya," from their parents or elders.
Most Malaysians of all cultures and faiths would remember this classic from Saloma, "Selamat Hari Raya"