`Eid means recurring happiness or festivity. There are two such `Eids in Islam. The first is called `Eid Al-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking Fast).
It falls on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Muslim year, following the month of Ramadan, which is the month of fasting in which the Holy Quran was revealed.
The second is called `Eid Al-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice). It falls on the tenth day of Dhul-Hijjah, the final month of the Muslim year. The Islamic `Eids are unique in every way. To them there can be nothing similar in any other religion or any other sociopolitical system. Besides their highly spiritual and moral characteristics, they have matchless qualities.
Each `Eid is a wholesome celebration of a remarkable achievement of the individual Muslim in the service of Allah. The first `Eid comes after an entire month of fasting during the days of the month. The second `Eid marks the completion of Hajj to Makkah, a course in which the Muslim handsomely demonstrates his renouncement of the mundane concerns and hearkens only to the eternal voice of Allah.
Each `Eid is a thanksgiving day on which Muslims assemble in a brotherly and joyful atmosphere to offer their gratitude to Allah for helping them to fulfill their spiritual obligations prior to the `Eid. This form of thanksgiving is not confined to spiritual devotion and verbal expressions. It goes far beyond that to manifest itself in a handsome shape of social and humanitarian spirit. The Muslims who have completed the fasting of Ramadan express their thanks to Allah by means of distributing alms among the poor and needy on the first `Eid before the Prayer.
`Eid also is a day of remembrance. Even in their most joyful times, the Muslims make a fresh start of the day by a congregational Prayer to Allah. They pray to Him and glorify His name to demonstrate their remembrance of His favors. Along with that course, they remember the deceased by praying for their souls, the needy by extending a hand of help, the grieved by showing them sympathy and consolation, the sick by cheerful visits and utterances of good wishes, the absentees by cordial greetings and sincere considerateness. Thus, the meaning of remembrance on the day transcends all limits and expands over far-reaching dimensions of human life.
Most of the imams when delivering the `Eid khutbah (sermon) will mention that `Eid is a day of victory. The individual who succeeds in securing his spiritual rights and growth receives the `Eid with a victorious spirit. The individual who faithfully observes the duties that are associated with the `Eid is a triumphant one. He proves that he holds a strong command over his desires, exercises sound self-control, and enjoys the taste of disciplinary life.
Once a person acquires these qualities, he has achieved his greatest victory because the person who knows how to control himself and discipline his desires is free from sin and wrong, from fear and cowardice, from vice and indecency, from jealousy and greed, from humiliation and all other causes of enslavement. Therefore, when he receives the `Eid, which marks the achievement of this freedom, he is in fact celebrating his victory, and the `Eid thus becomes a day of victory.
This is the proper meaning of an Islamic `Eid. It is a day of thanksgiving, a day of festive remembrance, and a day of moral victory. An Islamic `Eid is all this and is much more because it is a day of Islam, a day of Allah. Lets celebrate this `Eid with the true iman (faith) and taqwa (piety). In shaAllah, besides having enjoyment, we will be blessed by Allah.
Excerpted with slight modifications from www.islaam.org.
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