Muslim Holidays

Due to the upcoming Holiday of Eid-ul-Fitr this Friday, November 4th, 2005, we’ve got several requests from our readers about Muslim Holidays. So we checked some sites on the Internet and found the following information which we want to pass on to you.

Remember, visiting or living in El Gouna means also discovering another culture; understanding and respecting local tradition and religion will enlighten your visit and will be appreciated by the local population.

October 5 – Ramadan begins
November 4 – Eid-ul-Fitr

January 1 – Hajj begins
January 10 – Eid-ul-Adha
January 31- Islamic New Year
September 24- Ramadan begins
October 24 – Eid-ul-Fitr
December 22- Hajj begins
December 31- Eid-ul-Adha

January 21 – Islamic New Year
September 13 – Ramadan begins
October 13- Eid-ul-Fitr
December 11 – Hajj begins
December 20- Eid-ul-Adha

And here is some additional information:

Info found on the BBC website: The first Eid was celebrated in 624 CE by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with his friends and relatives after the victory of the battle of Jang-e-Badar. Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting, but thanking Allah for the help and strength that he gave them throughout the previous month to help them practice self-control.
The festival begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky.
Muslims in most countries rely on news of an official sighting, rather than looking at the sky themselves. The celebratory atmosphere is increased by everyone wearing best or new clothes, and decorating their homes. There are special services out of doors and in Mosques, processions through the streets, and of course, a special celebratory meal—eaten during daytime, the first daytime meal Muslims will have had in a month.
Eid is also a time of forgiveness, and making amends. ©2005 BBC

Additional info can be found on the BBC website

Info from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Eid-ul-Fitr is the Muslim feast that follows Ramadan’s 30 days of fasting. The Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر) marks the end of Ramadan, celebrated upon the sighting of the new moon. It is one of the two Eid festivals in the Islamic year (the other being Eid ul-Adha). The Prophet Muhammad celebrated the first Eid with his companions after a victory in the Battle of Badr. It’s also referred to as the Little or Small Bayram (which originates from Turkish), or the “Little” or “Small Feast”.

This holiday follows the month of Ramadan, falling on the first day of Shawwal (the tenth month in the Islamic calendar). As with all months in the Islamic calendar, it begins with the sighting of the new moon. For this reason there may be regional differences in the exact date of Eid, with some Muslims fasting for 29 days and some for 30 days.

Eid ul-Fitr commemorates the end of the month of Ramadan. Fasting is forbidden on this day as it marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan. A Muslim is encouraged to rise early and partake of some dates or a light, sweet snack, significant because for the past 30 days they have abstained from all food and drink from dawn till dusk. It may come as a surprise to many non-Muslims, but many people feel a sense of loss or sadness at the passing of Ramadan.

Traditions and Practices
Muslims are encouraged to dress in their best clothes, new if possible, and to attend a special Eid prayer that is performed in congregation at mosques or open areas like fields, squares etc. Before the prayer the congregation recites the Takbiir:

Allahu akbarullahu, akbarullahu akbar
la illaha illa Allah,
Allahu akbarullahu, akbar
w’al i’llah h’ilhamd

God is Greatest, God is Greatest, God is Greatest
There is no god but [the One] God
God is Greatest, God is Greatest
and to Him goes all praise

The Takbiir is recited after confirmation that the moon of Shawwal is sighted on the eve of the last day of Ramadan. It continues until the start of the Eid prayer. Before the Eid prayer begins every Muslim (man, women or child) must pay Zakat al Fitr, an alms for the month of Ramadan. This equates to about 2 kg of a basic foodstuff (wheat, barley, dates, raisins, etc.), or its cash equivalent, and is (typically) collected at the mosque. This is distributed by the mosque to needy local Muslims prior to the start of the Eid prayer. It can be given anytime during the month of Ramadan and is often given early, so the recipient can utilise it for Eid purchases. This is distinct to Zakat based on their wealth which must be paid to a worthy charity. This is calculated at 2.5% of their wealth.

The Eid prayer (solah) is followed by the khutba (sermon) and then a prayer (dua’) asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for the plight of Muslims across the world. It is then customary to embrace the persons sitting on either side of you as well as your relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Children are normally given gifts or money. Women (particularly relations) are normally given special gifts by their loved ones. Eid is also the time for reconcilliations. Feuds or disputes, especially between family members, are often settled on Eid.

Eid ul-Fitr in the Gregorian Calendar

While Eid ul-Fitr is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year due to differences between the two calendars, since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Furthermore, the method used to determine when each Islamic month begins varies from country to country. (For details, please see Islamic calendar.) All future dates listed below are only estimates:

* 2005: 4 November
* 2006: 24 October
* 2007: 13 October
* 2008: 1 October
* 2009: 21 September
* 2010: 10 September
* 2011: 31 August

Eid-ul-Fitr officially begins the night before each of the above dates, at sunset.

Iftar (Arabic: إفطار), refers to the evening meal for breaking the daily fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Iftar during Ramadan is often done as a community, with Muslims gathering to break their fast together.

Eid ul-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى) is second in the series of Eid festivals that Muslims celebrate. It is also referred to as the “Big Bayram” (from Turkish) or “Big Feast”. Eid ul-Adha is celebrated as a commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael for Allah.

On this day Muslims sacrifice animals which have been deemed Halaal, or fit for sacrifice. They not only eat the meat themselves but distribute it amongst their neighbours, relatives and the poor and hungry.

It is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja (ذو الحجة) of the lunar Islamic calendar, after Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. This happens to be 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan. While Eid ul-Fitr is considered to be one day, Eid ul-Adha is supposed to be four days, with the prayer being on the first day. Likewise, Eid ul-Fitr has the prayer on the first and only day. During this day, men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing.

The centre of the world-wide celebrations of Eid ul-Adha is the small village of Mina, a few miles from Mecca. This is the site of the three pillars which represent the devil (Iblis) and are stoned by Muslims during the Hajj. These three pillars represent the three steps taken to shoo away the devil, who tried to convince Prophet Ibrahim not to offer the sacrifice to Allah. The village also plays host to scores of butchers who arrange for the Halaal slaughter of the sacrificial animals on the pilgrims’ behalf. The recent explosion of numbers of people attending Hajj has led to a huge number of animals being slaughtered. Today, instead of sacrificing the traditional sheep in memory of Allah’s intervention in the story of Ibrahim and Ismail, sacrifices can be measured in terms of sheep-units, in which a cow or a camel is worth many sheep.

The charitable instincts of the Muslim community are demonstrated during Eid ul-Adha by the concerted effort to see that no impoverished Muslim is left without sacrificial food during this day. Coming immediately after the Day of Arafat (when Prophet Muhammad pronounced the final seal on the religion of Islam), Eid ul-Adha gives concrete realisation to what the Muslim community ethic means in practice.

Eid ul-Adha is known as Hari Raya Haji in Singapore and Malaysia, and Tabaski in West Africa.

Eid ul-Adha in the Gregorian Calendar

While Eid ul-Adha is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year due to differences between the two calendars, since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Furthermore, the method used to determine when each Islamic month begins varies from country to country. (For details, please see Islamic calendar.) All future dates listed below are only estimates:

* 2005: January 21
* 2006: January 10, then December 31
* 2007: December 20
* 2008: December 8
* 2009: November 28
* 2010: November 17
* 2011: November 7

The great Pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj)

Three months after Ramadan comes the season of the great Pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj), the birthplace of Islam, where an ever-increasing number of men and women converge each year, from every possible corner of the earth. The origin of the Hajj, the Fifth Pillar of Islam, dates back to the Prophet Ibrahim and brings together Muslims of all races and tongues to don two simple white cloths in an impressive display of Islam’s disregard for racial or national divisions. Each year nearly seven million people make the pilgrimage, making it the largest temporary gathering on the globe. It is an act of recollection and worship, but also a symbolic act representing the spirit’s return to its homeland-one of the central elements of the Muslim life. Hajj is an imperative duty (fard) for all Muslims physically and financially able to perform it.

” In it are Signs Manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures

The rites begin and end at the Ka’ba the square ‘House’ built as Muslims believe, by Adam and restored by Ibrahim and his elder son Ismael. However, the culminating moment unfolds eight miles away, where Muslims stand and pray near the Mount of Mercy, a desert place where the Prophet (pbuh) used to preach. The pilgrimage is regarded as worship of a lifetime, and in being the Final Pillar of Islam, the seal of consummation, the completion of surrender and the perfection of religion. It was during the Pilgrimage that God sent down His revelation:

“Today I have perfected your religion for you, and completed My grace upon you, and approved Islam as your religion.”

Posted in The Art of Living, Travelreports, Uncategorized.