By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Bestower of Mercy
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His servant and Messenger.
Dear brothers and sisters, Eid-ul-Fitr is the period that marks the end of Ramadan, and the exact time is announced according to the sighting of a new moon. It is a time of huge celebration with family, breaking the fast, praying and sending best wishes.
This year, the Muslim community and Eid celebrations are affected by COVID-19, with many Mosques closed and celebrations having to happen at home amongst those within households.
It is, therefore, more important than ever to support your brothers and sisters that have observed Ramadan and are having to adapt to a very different Eid-ul-Fitr celebration.
As millions of Muslims bid farewell to the noble month of Ramadan, the disbelief of a month flown by and an inner sense of inevitable loss is felt by Muslims everywhere.
Anticipating and participating in the month of Ramadan is an introspective and highly meditative process, delving into deep self-reflection and a heightened sense of faith. Ramadan is often seen as a prime time of year to worship Allah Almighty, to make important faith-based decisions – should I wear the Hijab? Should I grow out my beard? Should I assist the poor? Should I leave this job? – and most importantly, to become closer with our Creator and appreciate the noble Qur’an. During this month, Muslims strive to be the very best version of themselves.
By the time Ramadan is coming to an end and Eid preparations are underway, it’s very common to feel disappointed and let down. After all, you have worked for an entire month determined to complete the Qur’an, going out of your way to pray your daily and tarawih prayers in the Mosque or at home due to the covid-19 restrictions, memorising more Surahs (Qur’anic chapters) and Dua’s (supplications), and abstaining from worldly pleasures. You are at a religious high, your Iman (Faith) is soaring, you feel at peace with the world — and now, everyone is talking about what they wore for Eid and how excited they are to go to Starbucks and Chipotle again. With this crash and fall momentum, Eid can be disappointing, and even a nuisance for coming in the way of your own self-improvement and connection with Allah Almighty. However, it’s important to understand why Eid-ul-Fitr is so substantial in its own right.
Eid-ul-Fitr is a chance for Muslims across the globe to come together across countries and cultures to celebrate and worship Allah in a very specific and significant way. Although in Islam we are taught that every day is a mercy from Allah Almighty, Eid-ul-Fitr teaches us a significant lesson: we are stronger than we think, and that’s always a reason to celebrate. During Ramadan, we are free from the temptations and desires of Shaitan, and therefore, we are free to work on our own Iman, or faith, as we please. We become more serious in our connection to Islam and all its teachings. We fortify our Taqwa (piousness), and protect our hearts as practice, so when Shaitan is released on the day of Eid, we have had an entire month to become stronger, to become more obedient to our Lord, and work on our own inner corruption without distraction. If that’s not a huge mercy of Allah Almighty, what is it? Not only does Eid-ul-Fitr allow us to show off our new sense of strength, but also allows us to celebrate our hard work and welcome back some of our worldly pleasures like eating and drinking during the day.
Respected servants of Allah, as Ramadan comes to an end, we are also reminded that much like this fleeting month that came and went in the blink of an eye, our lives are also temporary. The end of Ramadan serves as a reminder to mankind of the closeness of our death and our necessity to strive for a beautiful hereafter. As Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“Live in this world like a stranger or a by-passer.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
What a beautiful notion! During Ramadan we learned more about ourselves, worked on perfecting what we had, strived to build upon our previous knowledge and have come out stronger than before no matter how much Qur’an we read or how many tarawih we prayed. The lessons of Ramadan continue even after the month has ended and we should carry our good deeds and determination throughout the entire year.
Additionally, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) encouraged us to continue fasting during the month of Shawwal:
“Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan and he follows it with six days of Shawwal it is as if he fasted the whole year.” [Sahih Muslim]
It is also the tradition of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to fast Mondays and Thursdays, recite Qur’an daily, and pray constantly (and not just in Salah (prayer)). Just because it is not longer officially Ramadan doesn’t mean we cannot strive to be the best version of ourselves until next year.
Abdullah Ibn Umar used to say:
“If you wake up, don’t wait for the evening, and if you reach the evening, don’t wait for the morning. Take advantage of your good health and your life.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
So put on your sequined dress, celebrate Eid, and don’t forget to keep that struggle alive. You deserve that beautiful hereafter — go and get it.
Dear brothers and sisters, Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Salih al-Uthaimin Rahimahullah said:
“O my brothers, conclude the month of Ramadan by reopening to Allah, the Exalted, from his disobedience and returning to him by doing that which pleases Him. For indeed, a person is not free from mistakes and deficiencies, as all of the children of Adam make mistakes, the best of those who make mistakes are those who repent. Indeed, Allah Almighty has encouraged in His Book and the Prophet (Peace be upon him) has encouraged in his speeches, (for us) to seek forgiveness from Allah, the Exalted, and to repent to Him, as Allah says: “And all of you (without exception) repent to Allah, O believers, that you may be successful [Qur’an, 24:1].” [Majaalisu Sharh Ramadan, page 229]
Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Uthaymin Rahimahullah said:
“The majority of Muslims enter Ramadan and leave it without any true impact!” [Sharh Bulugul Maram, vol. 7 page 163]
Dear brothers and sisters, this year, Eid-ul-Fitr 1441 AH/2020 is expected to be celebrated In Shaa Allah on Saturday, May 23, 2020 or Sunday, May 24, 2020. However, the exact date is subject to sighting of the moon of Shawwal, 1441, 10th month of Islamic Calendar.
Eid is so important for Muslims religiously and culturally that more people come out to pray than at any time else in the year. But alas this 1441 AH/2020 Eid-ul-Fitr Muslims will not be able to pray together and meet people who they have not met in a long time. They will not be able to hug each other and say “Eid Mubarak!”
However, this does not mean that we shouldn’t offer our gratitude to Allah Almighty and enjoy ourselves. There are many Sunnahs of Eid day which we can still do: Shower, dress up, wear perfume, and eat some sweets, meat and food.
Here are some great ideas on how to enjoy Eid in Lockdown, and an Islamic rationale for not organising Eid prayers in congregation:
- Please ensure that your Mosque does not organise congregational Eid prayers for the following reasons, which are based on the Qur’an and teachings of the Prophet (Peace be upon him, as well as the advice of medical and scientific experts:
- Whereas Allah says that saving one life is like saving all of humanity [Qur’an, 5:32].
- Whereas Allah tells us not to put ourselves at risk of death [Qur’an, 2:195].
- Whereas protecting and saving human life is the first and foremost objective (Maqasid) of Shari’ah (Islamic law). It takes precedence over all other objectives of Islamic faith, as life is the basis of everything else.
- Whereas early Islamic scholars have cancelled congregational prayers when there was a storm or health risk for people, based on the practice of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) himself.
- Whereas medical experts state that a person does not have to have symptoms to transmit COVID-19 to others who can get severely ill or die from it.
- Whereas research has established that this virus remains up to three hours in the air and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
- Whereas containment of a pandemic through limiting human contact is critical to dealing with the global problem.
- Whereas medical experts are asking people to avoid crowded spaces and create human-to-human physical distance.
- Whereas statistical models by scientists warn that if we cancel social distancing rules prematurely, it will be catastrophic for human life.
- Whereas there is no vaccine or a quick cure for this virus.
- Whereas our religious leaders and most of our government leaders are appealing to congregations to shut down and in some cases banning them.
We, therefore, appeal to all Muslims and Mosques to continue to cancel all congregational prayers, including Eid prayers, until the situation improves by the power of Allah.
Instead, we advise Muslims to offer Eid prayers in their homes. It is easy to listen to an Eid sermon (Khutbah) on livestream (many Islamic organisations will be doing this). The sermon (Khutbah) is a part of Eid prayer, and Muslims are highly encouraged to listen to it after the two-unit prayer.
Ya Allah, Ya Rahman, Ya Rahim, the Compassionate and Merciful, please forgive our mistakes, shortcomings and failings.
May He protect us all, Ya Hafiz, Ya Latif.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: email@example.com or +2348038289761
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