More than 1.6 billion Muslims across the globe fast during the holy month of Ramadan. After being reminded throughout the holy month of Ramadan what it feels like to be hungry and thirsty and deprived of money for basic necessities of life, Eid is a welcome relief for Muslims of all stripes, social class and wealth.
Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated this weekend. It is the largest Muslim religious holiday that remains misunderstood in major newspapers. Part of this misunderstanding is because of diverse traditions around Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr in different Muslim countries. These varying traditions, while bringing Muslims together as one, also showcase the cultural diversity within the Muslim world.
Eid-ul-Fitr is the holiday full of fun-filled family festivities. Kids get what is called ‘Eidi’ from their adults. This ‘Eidi’ is in the form of gifts or cash, something kids look forward to.
However, Eid-ul-Fitr is also the day to remind Muslims of sorrows and sufferings of poor who cannot afford basic necessities of life.
During this holy month, Muslims give away zakat which is 40 per cent or 2.5 per cent of their wealth to deserving Muslims. There are restrictions as to who is eligible to accept this zakat. Hundreds and thousands of dollars from North America and Europe are sent to Muslim countries during Ramadan. This is zakat money that is sent to poor to deserving family members, friends and poor. There are poor in North America and Europe also. However, the poverty is hidden in such a manner that those who do want to offer zakat in their communities cannot find the deserving families. There is also this perception that no one is poor in countries like the United States and Canada. On the Eid day, fitrana is given off also.
Additionally as the beginning of Ramadan and Eid is celebrated on the basis of moon-sighting, Muslims remain divided on when to start fasting or when to celebrate Eid. Muslims across the globe but especially in countries like the US and Canada need to begin this very important month at the same time, so that future generation of Muslims are united rather than divided.