Eid is considered as a time of joy and happiness in Islam.
Muslims assemble in Mosques on the morning of Eid in a joyful atmosphere to offer their thankfulness to the Most Generous One for helping them to fulfill their spiritual obligations.
With Eid takbirat which include exalting, glorifying and thanking God during the prayer, the entire world becomes a global congregation. After Eid prayers, the family members sit around to have a meal together resembling a food spread table from Heaven.
The word “Eid” is mentioned in the Qur’an only once in the story of Jesus (a). The Disciples persistently requested from Jesus (a) to ask his Lord to send down a table (spread with food) from the Heaven. He took ablution, prostrated with shedding tears for a while and then supplicated:
“…O our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us a festival (Eid) for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You…” (Qur’an, 5:114).
It is narrated that Allah accepted his prayer and sent down a table which consisted of food from Heaven. Before having a meal, he prayed again and offered gratitude to Allah while bursting into tears and then opened the table.
According to Mufassireen (the Qur’anic exegetes), while his Disciples prioritised the food which nourishes the body, Jesus (a) emphasised the spiritual dimension of the table that nourishes soul by drawing attention to God’s sign which led to sincere gratitude and Tawhid, unity of God.
Thus the spiritual dimension of Eid is more important than its social and cultural dimension.
However, most Muslims neglect or are not aware of this aspect of Eid. Without the spiritual dimension, Eid becomes only ceremonial.
Some Muslims experience it on a higher spiritual level when they sacrifice everything for the cause of Islam and achieve their goals on Eid day.
Ahmet ibn Hanbal (d. 855) was excited when he had nothing at home to eat because of donating everything to the poor.
Mawlana Jalal din Rumi (d. 1273) was with full of joy at the level of spiritual ecstasy when his wife said that there was nothing at home to satisfy their hunger. He commented that “Praise to be Allah. Our home resembles the Prophet’s home today.”
The days of Eid are also days of preferring others over oneself by offering a hand to those who are in need. Visiting elders, patients, the destitute, inmates and lonely individuals with a smiling face and a small gift will result in unforgettable experiences and joy in their hearts.
Days of Eid should be a time of reach out to our non-Muslim neighbours and workmates as well.
For those who have a big dream of serving humanity, every day is akin to Eid and every night resembles Lailat’ul Qadr (Night of Power in Ramadan).
Let our Eid turn from ceremonial to spiritual if we really want to experience real joy, piety and mercy from Allah.