Islam and Eid al-Fitr

2. Islam and Eid al-Fitr:

"Gatherings for Eid-al-fitr in Madrid"

The Five Pillars of Islam are the fundamental structure of Muslim life and belief. The most recognized and significant pillar is the fourth one, “sawm,” 1 which is about fasting. Ramadan is a month of the year when Muslims must abstain themselves from food, drink, and sex from sunrise to sunset. This period is for remembrance of Allah’s (means God in Arabic) grace in their lives and to empathize their poor, hungry neighbors in the world. Also, fasting is a reminder to Muslims to “cleanse” their secular minds and acknowledge Allah’s presence in their lives.2

The Muslims who are elderly, sick, or on a journey, along with women who are pregnant, or in their menstruation cycle, are exempt from the fasting. However, they need to make up the days when their circumstances get better in the same year.

Eid al-Fitr, which in Arabic means the “Festival of Breaking the Fast,” 3 is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. Some Muslims consider Eid to be comparable to Hanukkah or Christmas in their culture.

“…Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a holiday equivalent in religious importance to Hanukkah or Christmas.”4

“The Id al-Fitr is one of the national holidays in …Muslim countiries … which intense socializing and celebration take place…. the closest thing socially to the Christmas holiday in the West, although its religious meaning is unrelated.”5

In Islam, Ramadan is the most sacred time of the year when Allah presented Qur’an, the Islamic Holy Script, to the Prophet Muhammad. Eid usually lasts for three-days as the grand celebration of ending a month-long religious fasting during Ramadan. For the practicality and convenience, many Muslims living in Western countries celebrate Eid as one day. 6

Muslims celebrate the day by dressing up in their new or nicest clothes and sharing suppers with their beloved families, friends and neighbors. Influenced by Islamic teaching’s strong emphasis on the spirit of “sharing,” Muslims thank Allah’s blessing upon them by feeding the have-nots, and making donations (sadaqah al-fitr) to charities and mosques. As a part of religious ritual of sacrificing animals during Eid, Muslims are required to give at least a portion of what they have. 7


In 2011, Eid will be on Wednesday, August 31. 8

→ Introduction to Eid al-Fitr

→ Celebrating Eid on different continents

→Eid al-Fitr as a National Holiday?

→An Interview with Muslim American


→If you want to learn more about “Christmas” and “Hanukkah,”                                         please visit my collegue George’s page.


  1. Hasan, Asma Gull. American Muslims: the New Generation. New York: Continuum, 2000. 60. Print.
  2. “Eid-Ul-Fitr Celebrations.” Eid E Milad | Eid 2011. Web. 17 May 2011. <>.
  4. Hasan, Asma Gull. American Muslims: the New Generation. New York: Continuum, 2000. 60. Print.
  5. Fluehr-Lobban, Carolyn. Islamic Society in Practice. Gainesville, Fla. [u.a.: Univ. Pr. of Florida, 1995. 30. Print.
  6. “Holidays: Eid-al-Fitr in United States.” Web. 17 May 2011. <>.
  7. Khan, Khola. “Eid-ul Fitr ( Muslims Islamic Festival ).” Daily Pakistan | JinnahSeQuaid. 17 May 2011. Web. 17 May 2011.

1 Response to Islam and Eid al-Fitr

  1. I think that even in the US, Eid is not comparable to Hannukah because American Jews do still take a few more solemn holidays more seriously. Nonetheless, you should link to George’s section when you refer to Christmas and/or Hanukkah. Eid might be more comparable to Yom Kippur, a holiday on which even many secular Jews also fast.

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