What's With 'Eidulfitr?

Alhamdulillah; All Praise is to Allah The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful. I arrived at Kuching International Airport around 9.00pm today (29 September 2008). My flight was originally scheduled to arrive at 6.45pm, but the flight was delayed and by 6.45pm, we were still at LCCT-KLIA. The plane stalled the take-off for a few minutes to allow for the selling of food and beverages to take place, since it was nearly Maghrib. So, I breaked fast in the airplane today. Talk about fasting, today's already the 29th of Ramadhan. Just one more day left of this blessed month, before everybody starts celebrating and enjoying the festive season of Hari Raya 'Eidulfitr.

I have written in my previous article on the purpose of Ramadhan and the act of fasting, of which those are important to be understood so that the true spirit of 'Eidulfitr can be appreciated, and 'Eidulfitr can be celebrated in the most proper manner. Before I go on any further, please understand that this writing is neither meant to offend anyone, neither condemn anybody specifically. It is meant merely as a reminder upon myself, and for all the Muslims (in Malaysia, specifically) to contemplate upon. Sometimes we are blinded by our ignorance, desires and emotions that we need someone else to "show us the way".

We understand that the true purpose of the act of fasting in Ramadhan is for us (the believers) to achieve "taqwa". Abdullah Yusuf Ali in his translation of the Qur'an uses the term 'piousness' to translate "taqwa"; I will stick to the original term "taqwa" for the term 'piousness' is not entirely descriptive of "taqwa". What is "taqwa", then? Ibn Mas'ud said that achieving "taqwa" in the real sense means that one always obey Allah and never disobeys Him, always in remembrance of Allah and never forgets Him. A "muttaqun" (a person who has achieved "taqwa") is at a higher 'piousness' level than a "mu'minun".

Let's leave it at that; further explanations for the concept of "taqwa" can be referred to respective religious scholars (ulama'). What I mean to highlight here is our manner of celebrating 'Eidulfitr. The festive session of 'Eidulfitr is meant to celebrate the successful journey of a muslim to a better level of 'piousness', in other words - in achieving "taqwa". Throughout the month of Ramadhan, muslims are being given the wealth of opportunities to repent and strengthen their spiritual self - to draw closer (in terms of remembrance, obedience, submission) to Allah. In Ramadhan, muslims have the chance to ask for forgiveness for their sins, to purify and cleanse their soul, so that by the end of Ramadhan those who make full use of the blessed will be purified of all sins; thus, they return to the state as if they were newborns - the state of 'fitrah'. Hence, the celebration is named 'Eidulfitr.

Now, that means that 'Eidulfitr is in real terms a highly religious occassion. It is a celebration for us to show our gratitude towards Allah for all the Rahmah given to us during the month of Ramadhan. It is a celebration for successfully undergoing the 'training process' in Ramadhan, and purifying our souls such that it is like new, like the original condition of our souls before we start doing sins - the state of fitrah. So how do we show our gratitude towards Allah? Obviously, by obeying Him and remember Him at all times. Which is why during Hari Raya 'Eidulfitri, we start the day off with the 'takbir', to praise and glorify Allah (in our hearts).

The problem nowadays is, we see the tendency to celebrate Hari Raya 'Eidulfitr as if it is a fun festival of some sort. Hedonism has been the main theme for celebrating 'Eidulfitr. It is not wrong to entertain ourselves during 'Eidulfitr, for Rasulullah s.a.w. permits it, but what is wrong is when the entertainment becomes the main theme for celebrations and does not contribute in terms of helping us to remember Allah. Every time we have 'Eidulfitr celebrations we see our TV stations lining up their menu of movies that will be shown throughout the festive season. We also see concerts, music shows and programs being shown - of which very little are really meaningful. Some may say: tell this to media. Yes, it's true that these comments should be directed to the media. However, we should also remember that TV stations are very much influenced by the public.

So, let us contemplate and give a deep thought on how we celebrate our 'Eidulfitr. I might write another entry on that later on. But for now, I'm getting sleepy. So, it's time for me to doze off. May Allah forgive me for any wrong ideas.

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