Published in the Fordsburg Independent
After much self-restraint and discipline during the month Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn until dusk; the Eid al-Fitr – a celebration which marks the end of the fast – is a welcome break.
There are some rituals assigned especially for the day of Eid, such a dispatching a certain amount of money to the poor known as Sadaqat al-Fitr and the congregational Eid prayer.
The day of Eid is usually spent feasting with family and friends in private gatherings at home, except for the Eid prayer, observed in the early morning – a time when the entire community of Muslims; men, women and children, come out to an open field or large mosque to pray and recite the Takbeer (proclamation of God’s greatness). It is a gathering charged with spiritual energy.
Whilst women are not obliged to observe the five daily prayers in Mosques and do so at their leisure, the two Eid prayers are the only time when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) commanded women, young and old, to come out of their homes and observe the ritual together with the men. In a famous narration by Umm Atiyya, a female companion of the Prophet, she recounts that, “We used to be ordered to come out on the day of Eid and even bring out the unmarried girls from their houses and menstruating women so that they might stand behind the men and say Takbeer along with them and invoke Allah along with them and hope for the blessings of that day and for purification from sins.” (Bukhari: Vol. 2, Book 15, No. 88)
This tradition is upheld in every Muslim community the world over, from the sacred cities of Makkah and Medina, to fledgling Muslim communities in the West and beyond. In Johannesburg, the community gathering takes place at the Hunter Mclea Sports Grounds in Brixton, in which men and women share equally inclusive spaces, where families gather to strengthen the bonds of community and share the auspicious occasion in the spirit of Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood.
This year, the Takbeer will start at 6:15am, the Salaah at 7am, followed by a surprise treat for the kids and sharing of the traditional Eid milk. Families are also welcome to bring along a picnic basket and bask in the warmth of the festive event.