THE reward mentioned here in this hadith` by Holy Prophet (PBUH), is Eid-ul-Fitr, a three day festival celebrated by Muslims on the first of Shawwal, after a month of fasting, prayers and abstinence from food and drink from dawn till dusk.
Bestowed upon us as a blessing, Eid-ul-Fitr is the day of elation and exuberance. It is the day when one should be jubilant and thank Allah for the numerous blessings that He has bestowed upon us.
Various hadiths tell us how to celebrate this occasion. Muslims should adorn their best, clean clothes and offer special prayers, visit their relatives and friends, exchange gifts, eat and be merry. It is supposed to be celebrated in a way that distinguishes Muslim Ummah from others.
Sadly we have forgotten the true essence of Eid and transformed it into a scale of judging each other’s financial status. Your best clothes are supposed to be expensive and designed by high-end fashion houses, the food you prepare is expected to be exotic and unique that majority of Pakistanis can barely afford its ingredients and to top it all, you have to gift ridiculous sums of money to the young ones in the name of Eidi. Many would argue that this is what we are ordered to do! Wear our best clothes, eat good food, meet people, exchange gifts…then what is all the fuss about?
The problem is that though we are ‘obeying’ all of the Prophet’s (pbuh) orders, the true spirit of celebration has diminished. Eid-ul-Fitr is meant to be celebrated as a community. But by measuring our celebration by the amount of money we spend, we create even more divisions amongst us.
In a society where people are not even able to feed their children three times a day, don’t have a proper roof over their heads and are deprived of basic necessities of life, how can they feel happy on an occasion where they have to spend the money they never have?
People of lower and middle class start worrying about Eid expenditures as soon as Ramadan starts. They anticipate Eid with a feeling of dread instead of happiness like they should, since it is an important religious festival. But can we blame them?
According to Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), one-third of Pakistan’s population (58.7 million people) lives below poverty line. And the situation is getting worse. As per a report of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the inflation rate in Pakistan was 8.22 percent in June, 2014.
Islam directs us to donate and help people who cannot fend for themselves, but most of us ignore these instructions. We tend to forget that Zakah and Sadaqa-tul-fitr are very important aspects of this sacred occasion. For us, Eid is a national holiday, where people are more concerned about showing off their new clothes, women are focused on preparing multiple dishes and children are simply worried about receiving less Eidi than their friends.
Majority of the public spend the first day of Eid in a slumber, meanwhile, the nights are dedicated to parties and get-togethers, which continue for many days following the actual festival. Even educational institutions hold Eid-Milan parties where children are asked to bring various food items and wear their Eid clothes to school.
Now, I’m not saying that this custom is wrong, but schools should teach their students to wear simpler clothes to Eid parties so that kids belonging to lower income families don’t feel inferior.
We practice tolerance and simplicity the entire month of Ramadan, and then completely forget about this practice with the sighting of Shawwal’s crescent. It seems like we have twisted this celebration into something entirely opposite to what it really is. The ending of Ramadan doesn’t mean we should forget what is admissible what is prohibited in our religion.
Even Quran and hadiths ask us to celebrate Eid in our own capacity, keeping our budget and financial condition in mind. Those who can afford to buy designer dresses should do so but refrain from judging those who can’t. Those who cannot shouldn’t beat themselves up on being unable to acquire the same thing. People should realize that what you wear and what you eat, doesn’t define who you are.