Eid-ul-Fitr, one of the two major events in the Islamic calendar, is celebrated by all the Muslims irrespective of their global location in a spirit of festivity. It is a joyous occasion which comes after the blessed but spiritually rigorous month of Ramazan. Eid-ul-Fitr is being celebrated with fervour by Muslims in Sri Lanka too, extending our bonds of goodwill beyond the confines of the community. Muslims thus traditionally make it a habit to share their joy with their non-Muslim neighbours, mutually reciprocating the gestures of goodwill shown at Avurudhu, Christmas or Deepavali. Sri Lanka in that way is a special country where people can be seen to be enjoying the warmth and brotherly feelings amongst one another at these special occasions, with little regard to the vicious attempts by some elements to divide them.
In the month of Ramazan, Muslims engage in many acts of charity. However, despite everything appearing on the surface to be the same, yet the simplicity, the importance of values and the spirit of sharing and caring may in a way got lessened to a considerable extent due to materialism and commercialism being woven into the very fibers of our culture. Thus,with all the going around ,our lesser privileged brethren tend to be forgotten. It should be borne in mind that there are many out there who have no sense of celebration in them. There are many belonging to all communities who still languish in refugee camps after the War, and thousands rendered homeless and out of employment after many natural disasters –more recently during the Meethotamulla waste dump tragedy and worse ever floods. There are those who are in hospitals ,and orphanages going through bleak and lonely days with no one visiting them. Friendless, deprived of company, they will have no one to offer solace or comfort. It is therefore imperative that Muslims use this joyous day to think and spare a thought for these deprived brethren with warm and hope.
It is also imperative that a sense of compassion is inculcated in our children so that when they too will think of their unfortunate brethren while also teaching them the art of giving without allowing them to live in a world confined to computers and social media. Our younger generation should be reminded that while we can at least celebrate in some form or another, there are yet millions of children around the world who don’t even have the basic necessities to make not this day even all their daily lives survivable. This should also an apt occasion to be thankful for many divine bounties without living a life of greed.
We cannot divest ourselves from the misery of others. We cannot shrug it off saying that it does not concern us. Many people tend to be inward looking. They may at times donate money to charity and feel rightly it may seem so that they are doing their duty. However, the fact that if once seen to be with these people the perception of charity changes. There is a feeling of belonging when the recipient and giver meet.
Another area which should concern Muslims while they are in the festive spirit is to learn to treat people and treat them alike irrespective of all religious differences as one human family as per Islamic ideology and teachings. Al Quran says: ‘Oh Mankind! We have created you from a male and a female and have divide you into tribes and nations to distinguish ( and no despise ) each other’ and our Greatest Role Model was called as the Mercy unto mankind and not just to Muslims. Islam thus teaches us to be kind and compassionate. All human beings deserve dignity and mutual respect, by the very fact that they are born into the human family. Universalism is stressed again and again in the Quran and Prophet(SAW)’s example, which Muslims have undertaken to emulate.
This sense of humanity will thus ultimately decide the quality of our life on earth and rewards in the hereafter. This spirit of tolerance and compassion which was cultivated during this month of Ramazan will be much needed in days ahead, at a challenging time in our history where vicious campaigns are afoot to sow hate, discord and ill-feelings amongst communities. Prophet of Islam (SAW) showed much compassion and offered forgiveness even to his avowed enemies and those who made his life and lives of his family and companions a misery and laid obstacles. On this blessed day of Eid, these examples should be fortified in our lives by extending goodwill, brotherhood and friendship to all communities who have been living in amity for centuries. It is said in every religion that hate can be dispelled not through hate but through love and affection.
Eid, in essence, is therefore a follow-up to Ramadan in the sense that it tells us, as the month of fasting did, that our duties and responsibilities to our fellow beings — our neighbours, our families, indeed those whom fortune has not treated well — are not to be taken lightly or ignored. The crucial point here is that Eid is an opportunity for Muslims to demonstrate to themselves and to others that Ramadan has made them better human beings than they earlier were. On Eid day thus, it is thoughts of others, of fellow feeling, of respect for others that are paramount.