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Muslims, Eids, and Having Fun

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Muslims confine their celebrations within the bounds of the permissible (halal).
Muslims confine their celebrations within the bounds of the permissible (halal).
There indeed is a lot of misunderstanding prevailing among Muslims, as well as non-Muslims, about the Islamic point of view of celebration. There are Muslims who imagine that any kind of celebration is out of place, since this world is ephemeral and is meant as a testing ground for humans.


From their point of view, what matters is the Hereafter, and so anyone who finds any occasion in this life as worthy of marking as joyful is terribly wrong. This view is the result of a gross misunderstanding about the life of this world as envisioned in Islam.

Indeed, God Almighty has designed this world as a testing ground for all of us. And the test consists of the manner in which we use the blessings the Creator has bestowed upon us. Isn't it natural and necessary on our part to be thankful to the All-Merciful by being happy in receiving the blessings He has showered upon us?

If so, isn't it expected of us to express that happiness in an appropriate fashion? By celebrating the gifts of God, we express our gratitude to Him; and in this way, we demonstrate that we are utterly dependent on God and that we are totally helpless without His guidance and mercy.

The prominent Muslim scholar, Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, writes:

Laughter or joy is part of the instinctive feelings created in humans, and Islam, being a religion that calls man to the natural phenomenon of monotheism, is not expected to forbid humanity from expressing such natural feelings. On the contrary, it welcomes pleasure. A Muslim should develop a positive and optimistic personality, and not a gloomy and pessimistic one that is negative towards life. One must try to follow the good example set by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on this aspect. Despite his enormous responsibilities, he always had time for jokes; however, he never lied when joking. On many occasions the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) shared in the good cheer of his Companions; he’d joke with them and have fun. But as he shared in their joy, he shared in their sorrow. (Al-Qaradawi)

We should never lose sight of the fact that Islam is a complete way of life, as it covers every aspect of our lives. It is most important to show the world that Islam brings great happiness to our lives.

In fact, Islam brings us total hope in the bounty and mercy of the Almighty. And as for the trials and tribulations of this life, God has equipped us with whatever we need to cope with them.  

We should remember that Islam is beautiful and we need to show the whole world this fact by our speech, actions, and manners. At the same time, we should take care not to exceed the limits set by Allah Almighty and His Prophet.

And so, fun and enjoyment in Islam does not mean unbridled festivities, or indulgence in celebration that go beyond all barriers of commonsense and decorum. We have to confine our celebration within the bounds of the permissible (halal), and not to overstep them into the doing of the forbidden (haram) things.

In Islam, celebration itself is a form of worship, as it is organized quite in accordance with the guidance of Allah and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). And for the same reason, formal worship does not cease even during the middle of celebration.

A believer should be careful to observe the five daily Prayers as well as to observe all other religious duties incumbent upon him or her. Every aspect of a Muslim's life, including the occasions of festivities, is devoted to Allah Almighty. There is no way a Muslim can ignore the limits of religion to let oneself go and have a "spree" as it were.

There is never a moment when Muslims can "forget" their God or themselves. At the same time, they can enjoy all the blessings Allah has bestowed upon them, carefully observing the limits Allah has set. That is to say, while using God's blessings in this world, they should direct their efforts in such a way that they will ultimately take them to the home of the Hereafter Allah has prepared for His righteous servants.

Allah Almighty commands us in the Quran:

[But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief.] (Al-Qasas 28:77)

 

This means that celebration, as well as all other engagements of ours, should be undertaken with responsibility. Celebration taken in this manner is quite amazing even in the eyes of the non-Muslims around us.

 

The foregoing means that a Muslim should not try to imitate other communities in the matter of having fun. The very word "fun" has an unseemly connotation in today's parlance. But the fun a Muslim can enjoy is pure and innocent.

It is basically different from, for instance, the kind of "fun" provided by the casinos and the night clubs of many a modern city. To Muslims, it is Islam that brings joy and happiness, and they are perfectly happy with the kind of joy and celebration Islam provides for. And so a Muslim is always at home with the natural simplicity of the Islamic way of life.

As occasions for celebration, Islam has decreed two festivals for the believers: they are the
Eid al-Fitr and the Eid al-Adha.

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, which is the lunar month following Ramadan. Immediately after the rigors of the month-long fasting, Muslims are permitted to enjoy a well-deserved day of celebration.

 

The feast after the fast is doubly enjoyable. It is a time for Muslim families and friends to share their happiness together. And so Muslims around the world celebrate the occasion with lights and decorations.

During the celebration, people dress in their finest clothes, give treats to the children, and visit friends and relatives. Eid al-Fitr is an occasion for the expression of gratitude to God Almighty, and so the celebration of the day begins with Prayer.

Muslims gather in the mosques and grounds to offer the congregational Eid Prayer. After the Prayer, they embrace and shake hands with one another in an overflowing spirit of brotherhood and solidarity.

Charity and the doing of good deeds, which formed the core of Ramadan, continue on Eid day as well. Muslims take care to see that on the Eid day, there is occasion for all — including the poor and the unfortunate — to celebrate. All the activities of the Eid day are designed to foster feelings of unity and mutual love.

Eid al-Adha is as simple as the other aspects of the Islamic faith. It is celebrated in connection with the hajj pilgrimage. It is an opportunity to worship Allah and to offer Him a sacrifice.

 

It is also an opportunity to emulate the actions of the common father of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths: Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him).

  

It is the strength of a human being's faith that we commemorate during our celebrations on Eid al-Adha, as exemplified by Prophet Abraham's sacrifice. Symbolizing this monumental event in Prophet Abraham's life, Muslims offer an animal in sacrifice. The meat of the animal is distributed among friends, relatives, as well as among the poor.

 

Both the Eid days are occasions for togetherness and celebration as well as spiritual uplift and complete submission to the will of the Almighty.

 

Work cited:

 

Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, "Does Islam Go Against Laughter?" 4 April 2004. Accessed 13 Sept. 2009.

Professor Shahul Hameed is a consultant to the Reading Islam Website. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.

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