- July 5 -

Eid-al-Fitr

Eid-al-Fitr (Eid al-Fitr, Eid ul-Fitr, Id-Ul-Fitr, Eid) also called Feast of Breaking the Fast, the Sugar Feast, Bayram (Bajram), the Sweet Festival and the Lesser Eid, is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal. It marks the end of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting and prayer. Muslims...

Eid-al-Fitr

Eid-al-Fitr (Eid al-Fitr, Eid ul-Fitr, Id-Ul-Fitr, Eid) also called Feast of Breaking the Fast, the Sugar Feast, Bayram (Bajram), the Sweet Festival and the Lesser Eid, is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal. It marks the end of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting and prayer. Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking). In Arabic, the word "`Eid" literally means "that which returns" and "Fitr" means "breaking/splitting".
Muslims believe that they are commanded by God, as mentioned in the Quran, to continue their fast until the last day of Ramadan and pay the Zakat and fitra before offering the Eid prayers. Many Muslims attend communal prayers, listen to a khutba (sermon) and give zakat al-fitr (charity in the form of food) during Eid al-Fitr.
These prayers are held outside or in large venues, such as sports arenas, in some places. Many Muslims may travel far to participate in these activities. Some communities organize different festivities, such as communal meals or events for children, on this day.
Eid al-Fitr has a particular Salat (Islamic prayer) consisting of two Rakats (units) and generally offered in an open field or large hall. It may be performed only in congregation (Jama’at) and, has an additional extra six Takbirs (raising of the hands to the ears while saying "Allāhu Akbar", literally "God is greatest"), three of them in the beginning of the first raka'ah and three of them just before Ruku' in the second raka'ah in the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam. Other Sunni schools usually have twelve Takbirs, seven in the first, and five at the beginning of the second raka'ah. This Eid al-Fitr salat is, depending on which juristic opinion is followed, Fard (obligatory), Mustahabb (strongly recommended, just short of obligatory) or mandoob (preferable).

If a Muslim has not given zakat al-fitr during Ramadan, he or she can give this on Eid-al-Fitr. Zakat al-fitr is a form of charity consisting of a quantity of food, such as barley, dates, raisins or wheat flour, or its monetary equivalent given to the poor. Many Muslims may also prepare festive meals to share, wear new clothes, visit relatives and give presents or candy to children. Cards can also be sent, often featuring the words “Eid Mubbarak” (blessed Eid).

Many Muslims dress in fine clothing and children receive gifts on this day.
The girls and women decorate their hands with mehndi or "henna", and it is permissible for one Muslim household to host a pre-`Eid dinner party for the ladies to get together to put henna on each other. Henna forms a core part of all Eid festivities. Children, older women, and men would have just a little henna, perhaps just their soles, or fingernails.

Eid al-Fitr falls on the first day of Shawwal, the month which follows Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. In most Muslim countries, the entire 3-day period is an official government/school holiday.
The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal.
The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on the observation of new moon by local religious authorities, so the exact day of celebration varies by locality. However, in most countries, it is generally celebrated on the same day as Saudi Arabia, but many Muslims in different communities, for example on the east and west coasts of the USA and Canada, may begin the Eid-al-Fitr celebrations on different dates.

Source:
http://islam.about.com/od/ramadan/f/eid_fitr.htm
http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/muslim/eid-al-fitr
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_al-Fitr

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