Eid is a spiritual festival celebrated over 2 to 3 days in different parts of the world. Each one interprets the ‘Sighting of New Moon’ according to the verdict of the religious authority he follows – [probably one of the best examples of understanding the Institution of Marjaiyyat]. This is of course a sign of a healthy & mature community which is prepared to think and lead rather than follow others without understanding.
It is important to know that Eid prayers are not obligatory during the occultation of the Twelfth Imam (may Allah swt hasten his reappearance) and can also be offered individually (Ayatollah Sistani: Islamic Laws, ruling #1525).
Remember in Islam, the Day of Eid is one of the best days of worship & Ibad’at of Allah swt and not merry making. This sentence should be imprinted in the hearts and minds of our children and youths. Ibad’at should be performed according to its religious rules and regulations and not as we think fit or for our own pleasure or as others do.
Talking to Non-Shias and Non-Muslims, who are not aware of our Sharia Laws and reasons behind verdicts of our different Maraaji, whenever they ask me about Eid Day, I tell them that we celebrate Eid over 3 days – everyone at their own religious convenience – and this avoids many questions from them.
Comments are often heard from some quarters that we should all be united and celebrate Eid on the same day. In fact, this is a misconception. We should always remember that Unity does not mean uniformity. According to Lunar Calendar, we have 353 days to be united – so let us not pick on the 354th. Let us learn to appreciate and enjoy the blessings of variety in diversity.
In is narrated that during the caliphate of Imam Ali (peace be upon him & his progeny), a man once came and told him that he had sighted the crescent for the month of Shawwal, while no one else had. The Imam a.s. told him that since he has sighted the moon himself, it was Eid for him the next day, but for the rest of the community, since there were not two reliable testimonies (as required by the Shariah), it would be the 30th of Ramadan. So while it was haram for the man to fast the next day, it was wajib upon everyone else!
On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, Imam Ali (as) delivered a sermon in which he said:
“O people! Verily this day of yours is the day when the righteous are rewarded and the wretched are losers.
It is a day which is similar to the one on which you shall be standing (before your Lord).
Therefore, when you come out of your homes to go to places of your prayer,
remind yourselves about the day when you (your souls) shall come out of your bodies to go to your Lord.
When you stand on places of your prayer,
remind yourselves of your standing in the presence of your Lord (on the day of Judgment).
And when you return to your homes (after prayer), remind yourselves about your returning to your homes in Paradise.
O Servants of Allah! Verily the minimum reward for those men and women who fasted (during Ramadan),
is an Angel, who calls out to them on the last day of the month of Ramadan (saying):
‘O SERVANTS OF ALLAH! REJOICE THE GLAD TIDING THAT ALL YOUR PREVIOUS SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN.’
In all honesty, the moon sighting has nothing to do with unity of Ummah or keeping our families intact. The Shia world has had multiple Eids for centuries. The fact of the matter is that this is a simple jurisprudential technicality, which is part and parcel of Fiqh-e-Ja’fary. Until all the Maraaji are united on a single interpretation of moon sighting, let us respect their individual Ijtehad and follow accordingly.
If we are really so concerned about maintaining unity, let us keep in mind that the one institution that has safeguarded and protected Shi’ism for the past 1200 years and the only platform that is capable of uniting us, both at present and in the future, is the same Institution of Marjaiyyat.
May Allah swt accept all our Iba’dats of the Holy Month and the special Iba’dats of the Eid Day – no matter, whenever we celebrate it!
EID MUBARAK AND MAY ALLAH’S BLESSINGS BE ALWAYS WITH US ALL – Ameen
Article by Br [Marhum] Mustafa Mawjee – Please recite Sura al-Fateha