Photo story: Eid al-Fitr

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Eid al-Fitr, which roughly translates to ’Holiday of Breaking the Fast’ is the earlier of the two official holidays celebrated within Islam (the other being Eid al-Adha). Eid al-Fitr is celebrated by Muslims worldwide because it marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr falls on the first day of Shawwal in the Islamic calendar.

A specific salat, or Islamic prayer, is offered on Eid al-Fitr. It typically consists of two rakats, or units, and is done in a big hall or open field. The Hanafi school of Sunni Islam adds seven additional Takbirs (raising of the hands to the ears while reciting “Allahu ʾAkbar”, meaning “God is the greatest”) to it, which can only be performed in congregation. Three of these are spoken at the beginning of the first rakat, and three are said shortly before rukuſ in the second rakat. Similar to this, other Sunni schools often have twelve Takbirs divided into groups of seven and five.

In Shia Islam, the salat consists of five Takbirs in the second rakat and six at the end of qira’a, before rukuʿ. Depending on the community’s legal opinion, this salat is farḍ (obligatory), mustaḥabb (strongly recommended) or mandub (preferable). After the salat, Muslims celebrate the Eid al-Fitr in various ways with food (“Eid cuisine”) being a central theme, which also gives the holiday the nickname “Sweet Eid” or “Sugar Feast”.

The Islamic prophet Muhammad is credited with creating Eid al-Fitr, according to Muslim tradition. Certain stories state that Medina started these celebrations following Muhammad’s departure from Mecca. According to a well-known friend of the Islamic prophet, Anas, Muhammad found Medina to be celebrating two distinct days during which people engaged in recreational activities. Muhammad said that God had set apart Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as the two required days of celebration.

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