It was an Eid day in Madina, during the lifetime of the Prophet. All his companions, young and old and especially children, were clad in new clothes. They were preparing to rejoice and partake of the divine bounties of Id. They became a big congregation and offered the Eid namaz led by the Prophet. Thereafter, they warmly greeted and hugged each other and had a whale of a time. The most excited were the children who were overwhelmed by their parents’ love and care. Beautiful smiles were playing on their lips. But a little boy among them looked sad and sullen.
The Prophet came across the sad boy, bent down and lovingly asked, “Why are you unhappy my dear?” The boy who couldn’t even see who was before him, sobbed, “Leave me alone, please”. The Prophet of mercy very gently ran his fingers through his hair and asked again. The boy opened up, “My father is no more, and my mother has married again, but my stepfather does not want me to live at home any more. Today is Id and all children are happy with new garments and delicious food. But I have no new clothes or food, neither do I have a home.”
The Prophet felt sad and said, “I can feel your emotions, my dear. I lost both my mother and father when I was a child. But if I become your new father and my wife Ayesha your new mother, and my daughter Fatima your new sister, would you be happy then?” The little boy was utterly surprised and, when he looked up, he found that it was Prophet Muhammad, the most gracious man, before him. He felt he was in the seventh heaven when the Prophet took him home and gave him beautiful clothes and delicious food. It was a wonderful Id for the little boy who was no longer an orphan.
Eid literally means something that returns every year, while Fitr means a form of charity. So, Eid-ul-Fitr is an occasion that comes every year to remind us of our humane duty towards the weaker sections of society. It returns every year to enliven the spirit of sharing with the destitute ones, especially the orphans.
This is the prime purpose of Eid-ul-Fitr. Therefore, it is enjoined upon Muslims on this day to distribute fitrah (a fixed amount of charity mandatory for every Muslim) to the poor.
We are also exhorted to hold delicious feasts and invite friends and neighbours. Such noble acts on Eid-ul-Fitr are meant for Silah Rahmi, i.e. maintaining ties of kinship, bonds of love, mutual harmony, brotherhood and social integrity. Such a person who maintains good relations with others is called al-Wasil in Arabic. The Prophet explained that “al-Wasil is not the one who recompenses the good done to him by his relatives, but al-Wasil is the one who keeps good relations even with those who have severed the relations with him.”
Eid is not only about feasting on delicious food and wearing fancy dresses. It is actually about lightening the candles of delight, kindness, compassion, brotherhood and mercy. Once the Prophet was asked what actions were the most endearing to him. He replied, “Hearten the human beings, feed the hungry, help the afflicted, lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful and remove the wrongs of the injured.”
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and a Delhi-based writer. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org