FESTIVALS IN ISLAM 8
Islamicreligion is the second biggest worldwide with more than one billionsupporters. Islam signifies submitting to Allah’s will (Klein,2013). It also implies peace. In this case, Muslims are obligated tosubmit and observe peace and sustain it all through their lives. Islamic law has laid down two Muslim festivals: Eid Al-Adha and EidAl-Fitr (Ali & Gallegos, 2011). In addition to these, there areother special days celebrated by Muslims. They include Al-Hijra,Lailat al-Qadr, Eid ul-Fitr, Jum’a Prayer and Eid ul-Adha. Thecurrent paper seeks to explore festivals in the Islamic culture. Acomprehensive analysis of some of the festivals has been provided.
Importanceof Islamic Festivals
Festivalsare a fundamental component of human life. In the current time,almost all societies have their own festivals set on particular daysof the year. The beginning of festivals is rooted on varioushappenings such as ancient religious practices and social rites amongother memorable occasions (Desplat & Schulz, 2014). In theIslamic culture, all religious festivals carry with them a specialsignificance. For instance, the Jum’a Prayer marks the end of theweekly prayer Eid-ul-Fitr marks the conclusion of Ramadan whileEid-ul-Adhia marks the end of Pilgrimage (Desplat & Schulz,2014).
Thefestivals are a way of worship, commemoration, and showing submissionto Allah. They also symbolize times of happiness and joy. All theactivities carried out by Muslims should be attached to theremembrance of Allah. During these festivals, Muslims share food,happiness, greetings, with the poor, relatives, and friends (Desplat& Schulz, 2014). As stated in the Quran, feeding the orphans andthe poor shows love for Allah, besides being a way of winning hispleasure. In a nutshell, festivals in Islam are not only outlined inthe Islamic Law and the Quran, but they are also highly valued.
EidAl-Fitr (1 Shawwal)
EidAl-Fitr is celebrated on the 10th day of Shawwal (Desplat &Schulz, 2014). It is referred to as the “Festival of the Breakingof the Fast” (Klein, 2013). It takes place immediately the new moonappears after Ramadan (Desplat & Schulz, 2014). Ramadan is aperiod of contemplation and worship. All Muslims, except children andthe elderly, are supposed to fat during the day. During thisfestival, Muslims come together in the Mosque and recite Eid prayersdirected by the Imam. The prayers are followed by the ascending ofthe pulpit and the delivering of the oration (Nasr, 2009). Theseresponsibilities are carried out by the Imam.
Thesignificance and practice of Eid Al-Fitr is stressed in the Islamiclaw. The Eid prayer is recited in an extraordinary place and iscarried out without an azaan (Desplat & Schulz, 2014). It impliesthat a call to prayer is not provided (Ali & Gallegos, 2011). Thepractice of excluding the azaan supposedly initiated from Muhammad,and the Muslim supporters imitated the same. The prayer is carriedout in congregation and may take place in different places such ascommunity centers, mosques, or open fields. It comprises of twoelements of prayer and six incantations (Nasr, 2009). After theprayer, sermon and supplication follows suit. The importance of thesupplication is to ask Allah for his mercy, forgiveness, blessings,and peace towards all people in the globe. The significance of thesermon is to teach Muslims regarding the execution of rituals of thefestival including the Zakat (Klein, 2013). It is not an obligationfor Muslims to listen to the sermon but it is optional. Eid Al-Fitris supposed to be a cheerful and celebratory festival (Nasr, 2009).It is a day of sharing whereby, Muslims prepare special delicaciesand foods and distribute to their friends as well as neighbors. Theyalso hold communal celebrations where they eat together. However,compared with Eid-ul-Adha, Eid Al-Fitr is regarded as inferior and istermed as the “little feast” (Klein, 2013).
Eidal-Fitr signifies the fundamental values of Muslims such as charity,patience, worship, compassion for poor, and steadfastness. Fastingtrains the Muslim community to desist from worldly yearnings andfocus wholly on the Allah (Ali & Gallegos, 2011). In general, itis a transformation of the religion which generates a strongconnection between Muslims and Allah.
Islamicnations throughout the globe categorize Eid ul Fitr as a publicholiday. Mohammed, together with his relatives and friends were thefirst to celebrate Eid in 624 CE. The festival is not only performedto mark the conclusion of fasting, but Muslims purpose to thank Godfor helping and giving them strength all through the month (Klein,2013). In many countries, Muslims depend on reports concerningofficial sighting of the moon to commence the festival. Eid isregarded as a community festival whereby, all Muslims are required togo out visiting relatives, friends and exchanging greetings (Nasr,2009). Various activities take place during this festivals includingoffering of special in Mosques, marching in the streets, as well assharing a commemorative meal. It is the initial daytime food taken byMuslims during Ramadan (Desplat & Schulz, 2014).
EidAl-Adha (10 Dhu`l-Hijjah)
EidAl-Adha (referred to as the “Feast of Sacrifice”) is an Islamicreligious festival celebrated every year (Desplat & Schulz,2014). Eid ul Adha symbolizes the end of pilgrimage or Hajji thattakes place every year. It is among the five pillars of Islamicculture. All Muslims are required to celebrate the festival, whetherthey attended the pilgrimage or not. During the festival, Muslimsrecognize of their submission to Allah, as well as their readiness tosacrifice whatever thing as Allah wishes (Ali & Gallegos, 2011).The purpose of Eid Al-Adha is to honor Abraham’s readiness to offerIshmael as a sacrifice to Allah (Klein, 2013). This is seen as anaction of submitting to the commands of Allah. Eid Al-Adha starts onthe 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and takes place for three days (Nasr,2009). This is according to the lunar Islamic calendar. However,these dates change yearly following the Gregorian (international)calendar.
Theprimary significance of the festival is sacrificing an animalincluding goat, cow and sheep among other suitable creatures. It aimsat commemorating the ram that was sacrificed in place of Ishmael (Ali& Gallegos, 2011). During the time of Muhammad, a camel wassacrificed. The rule to offer a sacrifice is provided in Surah 22: 36(Klein, 2013). The Quran has not fixed any specific day for EidAl-Adha. Nevertheless, the pre-Islamic Arabs used to sacrificeanimals at the end of the pilgrimage and this was accordinglymaintained (Desplat & Schulz, 2014). Prior to offering thesacrifice, Muslims usually say a special Eid prayer.
Priorto the festival, all people including men, children and women arerequired to wear their best clothing. This, together with homedecoration, amplifies the celebratory atmosphere. The congregationthen assembles in a mosque or an open field to say the prayer. Afterthe Eid prayer, which takes place at the initial day of the festival,a sacrifice is offered. The sacrificed animal is referred to asadhiya and must meet set quality standards and age, failure to whichit is deemed an undesirable sacrifice (Nasr, 2009). It has beenevidenced that during this festival, over 100 million beasts areslaughtered throughout the world. In Pakistan, approximately tenmillion animals priced more than US$3 billion are slaughtered (Klein,2013).
DuringEid Al-Adha, each Muslim family is obligated to slaughter an animal.The meat is either eaten by the family alone, though they aresupposed to share with friends, relatives, neighbors and thedestitute. In this case, the meat is divided into three equal partsand distributed among the three categories equally (Desplat &Schulz, 2014). The significant of the festival is to eat food with ajoyful heart in commemoration of Allah’s provision for human being.
Al-Hijrais the New Year day for Muslims (Ali & Gallegos, 2011). Thefestival is performed in honor of Hijra when Mohammed travelled fromMecca to Medina (Desplat & Schulz, 2014). Al-Hijra marked thestart of the growth of Islamic faith. Hijra is the first dayaccording to lunar calendar. On this day, no religious ceremony isrequired. However, Muslims are supposed to meditate about thesignificance of Hijra. Hijra is used in the Quran to signify shiftingfrom a bad to a good state (Nasr, 2009). In this case, Muslims mayconsider the importance of their faith in assisting them attain agood life.
Lailatal Qadr (27 Ramadan)
Lailatal Qadr is the celebration of the Night of Power (Ali & Gallegos,2011). It signifies the night when Allah made the Quran initiallyknown to Mohammed. According to Muslims, Lailat al Qadr is the mostsignificant festival (Desplat & Schulz, 2014). The Quran putsforth that, this is the night when angels come down on earth. Thefestival is characterized by prayer and study (Nasr, 2009). SomeMuslims spend the entire night praying while others recite the Quran.It is also a perfect time to seek forgiveness from Allah. During thisnight, Muslims who sincerely pray from their hearts, with faith andhope, are forgiven their sins. There is no specific date for Lailatal Qadr. However, Mohammed recommended it would take place at thelast ten days of the month (Klein, 2013). As a result, most Muslimstake the last ten days of Ramadan as the perfect time to pray ad readthe Quran.
Likeall other cultures, the Islamic culture is characterized by variousfestivals, some of which all Muslims are obligated to participate.The festivals are celebrated every year. They include Eid Al-Fitr,Eid Al-Adha, Al-Hijra and Lailat al Qadr. According to Muslims, thesefestivals are not only a way of celebration, but it is the time whenthey show their submission to Allah and seek for forgiveness for pastcommitted sins. Besides, it is the time when Muslims share with theirrelatives, friends, as well as the destitute. The festivals arehighly valued in the Islamic culture and Muslims participate withcommitment.
Ali,M. M. & Gallegos, C. (2011). Thereligion of Islam.Sudbury, MA: eBookIt.com.
Desplat,P. A. & Schulz, D. E. (Eds.) (2014). Prayerin the city: The making of Muslim sacred places and urban life.Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.
Klein,A. F. (2013). Religionof Islam.New York: Routledge.
Nasr,S. H. (2009). Islam.London: HarperCollins.