Ramadhan has passed and we now welcome with open arms the month of Syawwal, the tenth month in the Islamic calendar. To Muslims all over the world, this only means one thing: The celebration of Eid ul-Fitri; better known here in Singapore as Selamat Hari Raya!
Eid ul-Fitri, or Hari Raya, is the one day that is fondly and lovingly looked forward to by Muslims. We spend days (and a lot of money) getting ready for this day, cleaning the house, mending what needs to fixed, baking cookies and etc. Some go the extra mile by driving to nearby Malaysia to buy cloth for their Hari Raya outfits, sometimes sending them for tailoring up to 6 months in advance.
It is a scene familiar with many families: Switching on the radio to listen to the well-loved Raya songs and well-wishes from fellow Muslims who call in, sometimes from far-away countries, while fixing up new curtains and rolling out thick carpets. The ladies might be busy tending to the more intricate details of Raya; sewing up patches or sofa covers and baking treats while the men would be involved in the heavy lifting of rearranging furniture and throwing out unused items.
We put our backs into this as one of Eid’s purpose is to celebrate, and no celebration is complete without the gathering and visiting of relatives and friends.
We want to celebrate having met the coming and going of yet another Ramadhan, and the best way possible to do this is by strengthening the ties between fellow Muslims and remembering Allah swt.
In the holy Qur’an Allah talks about Eid. He says in Sura al-Baqarah, ayat no.185:
“You shall complete the number (of days) and you may glorify God for His guiding you, and that you may be thankful.”
On the morning of Eid, people flock to the nearby mosques to carry out the Eid prayers; it is a bittersweet feeling for many. While there is no holding back the joy from being able to have gotten the privilege of going through Ramadhan and being able to see beloved friends and distant family again, Hari Raya brings back many memories of those who have passed on as well, bestowing within us the perfect harmony of gratitude and humility.
And the next year, when we experience the next Eid insyaAllah, we would repeat the same traditions, and the feelings that they invoke.
But all the things we traditionally do on Eid in fact mirror the actions of our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w and his companions when they celebrated Eid, many, many, many years ago. Some of his sunnah we carry out without knowing their origins – for example, wearing or buying new clothes, or asking for forgiveness from family and friends when we go visiting. Even the ‘green packet’ idea was from the times of the Prophet (symbolizing charity to own family members).
Most of what we do now is an echo of how Muhammad s.a.w celebrated Eid. However, there have also been some of his sunnah that may have been forgotten. Just a few short examples:
“The Prophet would not go out on Eid al-Fitr until he had eaten an odd number of dates. (Ahmad and Al-Bukhari) In Al-Muwatta, it is recorded from Sa’id Bin Al-Musayyib that the people were ordered to eat before they went out for prayer on the day of breaking the fast.”
Personally, the only tradition I was aware of when it came to eating during Hari Raya was to wait for the men from the mosque to come home before shovelling great amounts of delicious food inside my mouth. Eating dates or something sweet before doing anything else on Eid was what the Prophet s.a.w used to do, and it would be best to follow them.
“After the Eid prayer, they dispersed by a route that was different from the one they took to approach the Musalla (place of prayer).”
I imagine this would be a fairly simple sunnah to follow – we could always reroute our walkways or the roads we took to get to the mosque. But it seems strange – what is the reason for doing such a thing?
This sunnah is quite enigmatic as it remains shrouded in uncertainty. There have been many differing opinions on this by many scholars, of which only 12 are presented here:
1- He did that so that the two routes would bear witness for him, or it was said: so that their inhabitants, jinns and humans, would bear witness for him
2- It was said that it was so as to make them equal because they are blessed by his passing through.
3- It was said that his route to the prayer-place was to his right, and if he came back the same way he would be coming to the left, so he went back by a different route. This requires evidence.
4- It was said that it was to make manifest the symbols of Islam on both routes, or to make manifest the remembrance of Allaah.
5- It was said that it was to annoy the hypocrites or the Jews, or to alarm them by showing the large number of those who were with him. Ibn Battaal thought this was most likely to be correct.
6- It was said that it was a precaution against the plots of the two groups, or one of them. This needs verification.
7- It was said that he did that in order to make more people happy or bring blessing to them by his passing through or by their seeing him, and so that he might attend to their needs, answer their questions, teach them, give them charity, greet them with salaam, etc
8- It was said that it was in order to visit his relatives and uphold the ties of kinship.
9- It was said that it was in order to have a change of scene.
10-It was said that that when he went he gave charity and when he came back he had nothing left, so he came back via a different route so that he would not have to refuse anyone who asked of him. This is a very weak view as well as one that requires proof.
11-It was said that that route by which he went was longer than the route by which he came back, and he wanted to increase his reward by taking more steps to get there, but on the way back he was hastening to go home. This is the view favoured by al-Raafi’i, but he stated that it requires evidence and that the reward for taking steps also applies to the way back, as was proven in the hadeeth of Ubayy ibn Ka’b which was narrated by al-Tirmidhi and others.
12-It was said that the angels stand on the roads and he wanted two groups of angels to bear witness for him.
– Taken from http://islamqa.info/en/ref/49010
Nevertheless, this makes for an interesting sunnah, and a change in scenery every now and then might be a new refreshing tradition for yourself this Eid, who knows?
There are a few other ways to celebrate Eid in the footsteps of the Prophet s.a.w, like staying for the khutbah during prayers, walking to the masjid, using a miswak, wearing perfume etc. All of them have their own benefits and may we derive some from carrying them out, insyaAllah.
But most importantly, we can never forget the one who is responsible for allowing us to have met with the day of Eid, and what it took for us to get there. Always keep God in your thoughts, and pray for us to meet again with the holy month of Ramadhan and Syawwal. Let us also remember, while eating and being merry with our loved ones, that there are fellow Muslim brothers and sisters out there in the world who are unable to partake in the same joy as you, who are oppressed, who are alone.
So this Hari Raya, let us savor the moments we have and be grateful for them – for that truly is what Eid ul-Fitri is all about.
From the team here at Islamicevents, we thank you for your support and would like to wish you a very blessed Selamat Hari Raya and happy holidays!