On Eid-ul-Fitr, a festival that marks the breaking of the fast, Muslims around the world celebrate the end of the sacred month of Ramadan in which the Holy Quran was revealed to the prophet Mohammed. During this time, Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sexual activity between dawn and dusk, and at sunset the fast is broken with prayers and communal meals. The practice of fasting is a spiritual exercise found in many of the world’s religions; in Islam it is used as a means to help the believer focus on spiritual reflection, prayer, and good deeds; it is a way to draw the mind and spirit from worldly concerns and place the attention on the divine. The Quran tells the faithful that, “fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God”.
In order to ensure that no one is excluded from this happy occasion, many Muslim families traditionally perform an act of charity around the time of Eid through donations of food or money. This is sometimes linked to the practice of zakat, or almsgiving, which is one of the pillars of Islamic teachings whereby Muslims are called upon to give a certain percentage of their wealth to charity. Although zakat is not necessarily due at this time, some Muslims choose to make these charitable payments around the time of Eid-ul-Fitr. The word zakat literally means “to cleanse” and it is believed that act of giving purifies and blesses the wealth of the donor. The night of Eid-ul-Fitr itself is a joyous time of great celebration filled with enjoying food and sweets, as well as socializing with friends, family, and neighbours.
Icacos Mosqe - Photo: Christopher Anderson