In Islam, Eid-day celebration is a significant event twice in a year. Muslims all over the world observe Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha every year in a fully spiritual and social festive mood as it was recommended by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Muslims are going to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, festival to break the fast after observing one month fasting. Likewise, in any other countries of the world, Eid festival has significant impact on the socio-religious life. It can play a positive role towards promoting peaceful and harmonious relation in the practical life if we can celebrate this day in accordance with the guidelines of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Historically, once the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) migrated from Mecca to Medina along with all of His companions, He saw that Medinan people were observing two festivals such as ‘Meherjan’ and ‘Nawroj’ influenced by the Persian culture. He (pbuh) then recommended observing other two festivals such as Eid al-Fitr on the first day of Arabic month Shawal and Eid al-Adha on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hajja, the last month of Arabic calendar. It is narrated by Anas bin Malik (r.) as he said: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) came to Medina and the people had two days when they would play and have fun. He said, ‘What are these two days?’ They said, ‘We used to play and have fun on these days during the Jaahiliyyah (Days of Ignorance). The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, ‘Allah has given you something better than them, the day of (Eid) Adha and the day of Eid al-Fitr.’” (See: Sunan Abi Dawud, vol. 1, p. 141) Few things are here which can get the attention of concerned people:(i) First of all, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not use the word “haram (prohibited)” in requesting them to avoid these two festivals but used the term “… Better than them”. It is really scientific way to use this type of term for influencing people to leave such work and to do that is good for them. Using this method can surely promote peace and harmony in the society.
(ii) He (pubh) did not only request them to leave these festivals but also replaced with other two such as ‘Eid al-Adha’ and ‘Eid al-Fitr’ instead of ‘Meherjan’ and ‘Nowroj’. It should be kept in our mind that considering something prohibited (haram) is not our duty only but we should also find and recommend something which is better than that work. Because, people do not want to be free from a work only especially in the case of any celebration and festival but also wish to keep them involved in any other.
(iii) The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) did not prohibit the celebration of those two festivals through competition, play, fun etc. Therefore, people were interested immediately on two Eid days instead of those ‘Meherjan’ and ‘Nowroj’ as they could find these days better and well organised.
Besides all of these issues, Islam teaches some other techniques for promoting amicable and peaceful relation among the people in the society. For example:
(i) Congregational Eid prayer must be in an open place and all must be present there. As we can learn from the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that He along with His companions did not pray Salat al-Eid in the Mosque of Nawawi except a year for bad weather. Not only that but also He (pbuh) visited many houses on the day of Eid to ask the householders to go to Eid field. He also asked women to go there as the gathering will be more and the enemies of Islam and Muslims can observe and realise the unity and number of Muslims. This is one of the significant objectives of Shar’ah in obligating the Eid gathering.(ii) Obligatory payment of zakat/sadaqatul Fitr (known as Fitra in our culture). Each and every rich person is required to pay a certain amount to the poor and needy people. It can help both of them to be happy on the Eid day. Receiving the money, the poor and needy people are happy as they can fulfil their basic needs and demands. On the one hand, rich people are also happy to see the poor and needy people’s happiness.
(iii) The Apostle of Allah recommended us to use two different ways to go to the Eid-field and come back home as He (pbuh) used to do that himself. (Sahih al-Bukhari) The intention of using different ways, perhaps, is meeting many people and greeting them as well. When the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) met anyone said “taqabbala Allahu minna wa minkum (May Allah accept from us and you).” (See: Fathul Bari li Sharhi al-Bukhari) It can surely promote the amicable relationship among the people.
(iv) Another recommendation on this day is to visit relatives. It is natural that we cannot visit our relatives frequently as we live in different places of each other. However, through the Eid celebration, we visit our native places and can meet our relatives easily. It also makes our relation stronger and peaceful. In Islam, keeping our relation good is compulsory on everyone. If anyone breaks any relation without any considerable reason of shari’ah would be thrown into the hellfire in the day of judgement. (Sahih al-Bukhari) Therefore, Eid celebration created a good option for keeping our relation good and making it stronger.
(v) Arrangement of cultural and other programmes on Eid day can also promote good relation among the people. During the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) people arranged different programmes, sang sons and made funs in the presence of Him (pbuh). He (pbuh) also inspired them to do that as this can play a positive role to reconnect many people to Islamic culture instead of jahliyyah one. All people irrespective of their different religious beliefs, dogmas, thoughts, races and cultures can get together in a place and enjoy the beauty of Islamic culture and customs. Therefore, they can have a good relation between one-another and grow an attraction to the teachings of Islam. Therefore, we, in the present context of the world, should arrange different programmes to involve all the people of the community and avoid western culture and customs as it affects our practical lives negatively. Narrated by Aysha (r.), Abu Bakr (r.) came to my house while two small Ansari girls were singing beside me the stories of the Ansar concerning the Day of Buath. And they were not singers. Abu Bakr said protestingly, "Musical instruments of Satan in the house of Allah's Messenger (pbuh)!" It happened on the Eid day and Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said, "O Abu Bakr! There is an Eid for every nation and this is our Eid." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith no. 952)
May Allah (swt.) make this Eid celebration better than any other of our lives! May He almighty guide us on the right path to achieve the goals of Shari’ah in Eid festivals and reward everyone who takes the initiative according to the guidelines of the Qur’an and Sunnah!
The writer is a scholar in Islamic studies and researcher on Islamic views on contemporary issues.