The purpose of all festivals is to let the people celebrate an occasion together, to share its joys and to feel united. Religious festivals unite us in our love of God as much as of each other. Most of our festivals are religious.
Our main religious and social festivals are Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha and Eid Milad-un-Nabi. We celebrate them together each year with great joy and zeal or passion.
“Eid-ul-Fitr” is celebrated after the holy month of Ramazan is over. It means “reward” that is given to us in the form of joy, satisfaction, and hope after we have fasted for one full month. We have the satisfaction of having purified ourselves, bodily and spiritually. We feel happier in our kindness and help to others. Every Muslim who has enough means is to give a certain amount of wheat or its value in money to the needy. We can give more.
“Eid-ul-Azha” means the festival of sacrifice. It is the festival that celebrates Hazrat Ibrahim’s attempt to sacrifice his son and his actual sacrifice of a sheep. Every Muslim, who has to means, is to sacrifice an animal in the way of God, after the Eid prayers.
At least one-third of the meat of the sacrificed animal is to be distributed among the needy. The rest of the two-third meat can be shared by the family, relatives, and neighbors of the owner of the animal. Here again, we share our meat with others and show our generosity. Our joys cannot be complete without it. In this way, we show practically that we are ready to sacrifice our all for God, for our “deen” (religion) or for the society or the country if it so demands.
“Eid Milad-un-Nabi” means the festival on the birthday of our Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). It is celebrated in memory of our greatest leader who showed the world the right path of Islam. We celebrate the successes of Islam by remembering the Prophet’s mission on earth.
All the three Islamic festivals bring us closer and show.us our common path and aims. They are the outer expression of our inner belief and faith. The inner faith and outer expression, in this sense, make up Islamic culture. The outer expression includes our customs, ways of life, our buildings, the most sacred (holy) being the House of God (the mosque).
The Islamic festivals, in fact, bring out the spirit of Islam in concrete form. They show that we can be truly happy if we live a life of purity, hard work, worship and generosity. Social happiness depends on sharing each other’s joys and sorrows as advised by God and the Holy Prophet.