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Eid ul-Fitr

To describe the important Muslim festival of Eid ul-Fitr.

by James Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 3/4

Aims

To describe the important Muslim festival of Eid ul-Fitr.

Preparation and materials

  • Download images of the festival from an Internet site (check content and copyright).
  • Download images of the Hajj from http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/past_exhibitions/2012/hajj.aspx
  • Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim year. It is a movable feast because Islam follows a lunar calendar, each new month starting with the appearance of the new moon at Mecca.

Assembly

  1. This year, 18 August is the final day of the Muslim festival of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month-long festival that commemorates the original revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad. As is commanded by the Qur’an, Muslims fast for the whole of Ramadan. Each day during Ramadan Muslims get up before the sun rises and have a small breakfast. Then no food at all is eaten until after the sun has set. Those too young, old, or sick to fast are exempt, but everyone else is expected to attempt the fast.

    The act of fasting is believed to be beneficial, concentrating the mind and soul towards God and developing self-discipline. The discipline involved in this fast can be very hard. This year, Ramadan takes place from 20 July to 18 August, a time of the year when the days are long – so the period of fasting is equally long. When Ramadan falls during the winter or spring, each day’s fast is shorter!

    During the month of Ramadan many people also go on pilgrimage – the Hajj – to Mecca and beyond. This is one of the central concepts of Islam, and those who go on Hajj speak of the great impact and change that it has on their lives.
  2. The end of Ramadan is marked by a festival called Eid ul-Fitr, which lasts from one to three days (‘Eid’ means ‘festival’ and ‘ul-Fitr’ means ‘of breaking the fast’). During Eid ul-Fitr fasting is forbidden.

    Eid ul-Fitr marks the achievement of a month’s fasting. The evening meals of Ramadan are a recognition of a day’s discipline and restraint but the Eid ul-Fitr meal celebrates a month’s fasting – an extraordinary achievement.

    Special prayers are held in the morning, combined with an act of zakat or charity – giving money to the poor. The gifts are given after the prayers, and then a celebration meal is eaten with the extended family.

    Eid ul-Fitr is known as ‘the sweet Eid’ because of the large amount of sweet food eaten in the feast. For most Muslim people, this festival is the most important festival day in the year, with great family celebrations taking place. Cards are exchanged, with the greeting Eid mubarak, which means ‘a blessed Eid’, rather like Christians saying ‘Happy Christmas’.
  3. In the twenty-first century, it often seems as though anything – anything – can be acquired easily. Accordingly, the valuable qualities of self-restraint and an ability to look for the important things in life are increasingly rare. The discipline and mindfulness acquired by a month of fasting are certainly worth celebrating.

    The values of Ramadan have a place in a secular nation as well as in the Muslim world.

Time for reflection

(Light a candle and show the images of Eid ul-Fitr.)


Have you ever fasted? Gone without food for a day or so? How difficult did you find it?


Or did you have a fashion fast, when you decided not to buy any more clothes until you had worn out some of your older ones?


Or have you ever decided to have a ‘gadget fast’ when you resolved not to buy the latest ‘must have’ gizmo? Did you give the money you saved to charity? Or keep it for yourself?

Sometimes we just can’t have what we want, for various reasons: how hard is that for you?

Prayer

Lord God,

help me sometimes to go without something that I feel I want, but know I don’t need.

Help me to distinguish between the two,

and to develop strength of character to sometimes go against the crowd,

and be myself.

Amen.

Music

Play some music associated with this festival.

Publication date: August 2012   (Vol.14 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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