Imam Dr. A. Rashied Omar
Eid al-Fitr is a day of great joy and celebration. It is the expression of a deep sense of gratitude and thanksgiving for the wonderful gift and blessing of successfully completing a month long fast and dedicating ourselves to increased acts of prayer, charity and benevolence.
This understanding of the ‘Festival of the Breaking of the Fast’ as a Day of Thanksgiving is underscored by the following verse from the Glorious Qur’an in which Allah, the Lord of Compassion and Mercy proclaims: Allah desires that you complete the fasting of the whole of the month, and that you may glorify Him for giving you His guidance, and that you may give thanks and show gratitude. (Surah al-Baqarah 2:185)
Moreover, the idea of thanksgiving resonates well with the Islamic concept of shukr and is one of the central ethico-moral values of Islam.
The Glorious Qur’an is replete with verses stressing the importance of thanksgiving as a defining characteristic of a Muslim (Q2:152 and Q76:3). The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has taught us that, “The Believer cannot be grateful for Allah’s blessings and favours, unless he first shows gratitude to his fellow human beings” .
It is with this spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude that the global Muslim Ummah observes Eid al-Fitr. We commence this celebratory day by wearing our best and coming together at the masjid and our Eid musallas to offer special prayers, to rejoice in the remembrance of Allah’s favours, to reflect on the accomplishment of our dedication and submission to our Sustainer and to show gratitude for the blessings of everyday life. The Muslim Ummah meditates and prostrates to their Lord in congregation, displaying the real spirit of brotherhood and equality through the Eid Prayers and through the zest of meeting and embracing our brothers and sisters in humanity.
We also express our happiness at Eid al-Fitr by sharing a modest charity in the form of zakat al-fitr at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan so that the less fortunate are also able to share in the joy of Eid. In this regard we are inspired by the sterling work of humanitarian organisations such as Islamic Relief, Gift of the Givers, Africa Muslim Agency and the South African National Zakah Fund who work tirelessly to serve those who are most vulnerable, underprivileged and marginalised.
As responsible South Africans we also give thanks for the free, fair and peaceful general elections that was convened at the beginning of the month of Ramadan. We pray for elected leaders who will serve our country well and in the Eid spirit of forging unity, we pray that Allah will bless our country and its people as we work together to promote greater levels of socio-economic justice and social integration.
Finally, at this joyous time, let us keep the spirit of Eid with us by practising the good virtues of patience, humility, gratitude, compassion, forgiveness and generosity throughout the year. At this time of thanksgiving we also spare a thought for those who are affected by poverty, deprivation, war, disease, and other misfortune and we pray that Allah alleviate their suffering and hardship.
On this happy occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, we pray that Allah bless the Muslim Ummah and heal it from extremism and sectarianism so that we do not place fear or terror in the hearts of people and instead harmoniously coexist with mutual understanding and respect.
In the beautiful spirit of Eid, let us become more committed to reaching out in compassion and love to our families, neighbours and all in the divided world we live in.
Let the day of Eid al-Fitr be an occasion for eliminating enmity and hatred, a time of renewed kindness, a time for fostering love and compassion in our families, in our society and for humanity.