Mufti Taqi Usmani
Allah Almighty has chosen the month of Shawwal for the celebration of “Eid-ul-Fitr”, one of the only two annual festivals recognised by the Shariah. This happy day is a sign of gratefulness by the Muslims on the accomplishment of Ramazan, and as an immediate reward by Allah for those who spent the month of Ramazan in fasting and performing other ibadat.
Instead of commemorating an event from the past, the Shariah has prescribed the first of Shawwal as an annual festival for the Muslims at an occasion when they themselves accomplish a great ibadat. This approach reminds the Muslims that they should not rely only on the accomplishments of their ancestors, rather, they should themselves perform meritorious acts to please their Creator. In prescribing the ways to celebrate the happy day, Islam has adopted another unique approach. The festivals of other religions or nations normally comprise of some acts of rejoicing and enjoyment. The whole happy day is normally spent in dancing, singing and playing.
In contrast, Islam has prescribed a simple yet graceful way to observe the happy day. First of all, it is mandatory on all the well-off Muslims to start their day by paying “Sadaqat-ul-Fitr” to the poor of their society, so that they, too, may enjoy the day along with others, and may not be worried for earning their livelihood at least on that day of happiness.
After paying the “Sadaqat-ul-fitr”, the Muslims are required to proceed to an open place where they can offer the Eid prayer collectively. In this way, they are supposed to present themselves before their Creator and offer two rakats of this special type of Salat, which makes them receive blessings from Allah and start their celebration by these divine blessings. After the Salat also, they are supposed to rejoice the day in a responsible manner, without violating the limits prescribed for them and never indulging in the acts prohibited by Allah.
Keeping this point in view, we will now discuss specific rules prescribed for observing the day of Eid-ul-Fitr. It had been the practice of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), that he would not sleep in the night preceding the day of Eid-ul-Fitr. This night has been named in a Hadith as the Night of Reward (Lailatul Jaiza). Almighty bestows his rewards on those who have spent the month of Ramazan abiding by the dictates of Shariah, and all their prayers in this night are accepted. Therefore, it is desirable to perform nafl prayers in this night. The Prophet (PBUH), is reported to have said: Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two Eids expecting rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die. (Ibn Majah) To benefit from this opportunity, one should perform as much worship in this night as he can, and should pray for all his needs and desires.
The following acts are prescribed as Sunnah at the beginning of the day of ‘Eid-ul-Fitr before proceeding to the Eid prayer: (1) To wake up early in the morning. (2) To clean one’s teeth with a Miswaak or a brush. (3) To take a bath. (4) To put on one’s best available clothes. (5) To wear perfume. (6) To eat a sweet food, preferably dates, before the Eid prayer. (7) To recite the following Takbir in the low voice while going to the ‘Eid prayer: Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar La Ilaha Ila Allah Wa Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar Wa Lillahi Alhamd
Sadaqat-ul-fitr is an obligation for every Muslim, male or female, who owns 613.35 grams of silver or its equivalent, either in the form of money, ornaments, stock-in-trade, or in the form of some goods or commodities beyond one’s normal needs. Every person who owns such an amount has to pay Sadaqat-ul-fitr, not only on behalf of himself but also on behalf of his minor children. The prescribed amount of Sadaqat-ul-fitr is 1.75 Kilograms of wheat or its value in money. This amount is prescribed for paying Sadaqat-ul-fitr for one person only. If a person has some minor children, the same amount has to be paid on behalf of each one of them separately.
Sadaqat-ul-fitr is obligated on each adult male or female separately, and the relevant adult person himself is responsible to pay it. The husband is not required to pay Sadaqat-ul-fitr on behalf of his wife nor is the wife supposed to pay it on behalf of her husband. Similarly, a father is not bound to pay Sadaqat-ul-fitr on behalf of his adult children or vice-versa. However, if the head of the family, by his own free will, wishes to pay Sadaqat-ul-fitr for each one of the members of his family, he should seek their authorisation for that purpose. In this case the Sadaqat-ul-fitr paid by him will be valid on their behalf. If he did not pay the Sadaqat-ul-fitr on behalf of any of the members of his family, he will not be responsible for it. Rather, it is the duty of every adult member of the family to discharge his own obligation or to request the head of the family to pay it on his or her behalf.