Muslims mark end of Ramadan with Eid-al-Fitr festival

Staff Correspondent

17th July, 2015 07:04:47 printer

Muslims mark end of Ramadan with Eid-al-Fitr festival

The muslim community around the world has begun to mark the end of Ramadan. After a month of fasting, followers of Islam will now start celebrating the festival of Eid-al-Fitr - not all, however, on the same day.


For the past month, some 1.5 billion devotees have fasted from dawn to sunset every day, marking the month in which they believe the Quran was sent down to the lowest heaven, where it was prepared for Gabriel to later reveal to the Islamic Prophet Muhammed.


Many Muslims regard the fast as a means of creating a stronger bond with their religion.

Due to Islam's 12-month lunar calendar, however, not all Muslims will begin the celebrations of Eid on the same day. The sighting of the new, crescent moon ends Ramadan, and the start of Eid must be declared by sunset; some countries still observe the tradition that this new moon be observed with the naked eye, meaning they tend to be one day late.


Festivities will therefore have a staggered start across Friday and Saturday as Muslim communities rely on different methods of confirming the end of Ramadan.


'New beginning'

Whether beginning on Friday or Saturday, the world's Islamic community will now revel in three days of celebrations to mark the end of Ramadam. Eid, also known among other names as the Feast of Breaking the Fast or the Sugar Feast, brings together Muslim families over gifts and decadent meals.


In a statement released late on Thursday, US President Barack Obama offered his wishes to Muslims around the globe as they prepared to break their fast.


"While Eid marks the end of Ramadan, it marks a new beginning for each individual - a reason to celebrate and express gratitude on this holiday," Obama said.

The president also made reference to New York City's recent decision to include Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as public school holidays, describing the decision as "acknowledgement of the great diversity and inclusiveness that adds to the richness of our nation."


German President Joachim Gauck, himself a former pastor, used the occasion to appeal for religious untiy.


"If we let ourselves be driven by a wish for respectful, peaceful coexistence, we'll secure a good, collective future," Gauck said. Germany's Central Council of Muslims said it was happy to have observed many non-Muslims in Germany joining in the late-night fast-breaking celebrations which take place during Ramadan.


Since beginning Ramadan on June 18, Muslims, especially in the northern hemisphere, faced a particularly gruelling month of fasting this year, with temperatures reaching as high as 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) in Germany, taking the meaning of Ramadan - "hot month" - to the very extremes.

There are of course exemptions to fasting during Ramadan which include menstruating or pregnant women, the sick, the young, and the elderly. Doctors and public health organizations this year issued extra warnings to fasting Muslims across Europe, reminding families of the dangers of dehydration, particularly among the young and elderly - sentiments which were widely supported by Muslim councils and leaders.

Temperatures in Europe were nothing, however, compared to those in the Middle East which saw highs of 48 degrees Celsius in Iraq. Military and civilian aid organizations in Pakistan set up dozens of temporary camps to care for victims of dehydration, heatstroke and circulatory collapse as temperatures soared to 45 degrees Celsius in the shade.