Saturday, October 13, 2007

Shawwal: what to do on Eid night,

Shawwal: what to do on Eid night,
Eid day, and during the month
By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Shawwal is the first of the three months named as "Ashhur al-Hajj" (ie the months of Hajj). Although the major acts of Hajj are normally performed in the first ten days of Zul-Hajjah, yet the whole period starting from the first of Shawwal up to the 10th of Zul-Hajjah is held to be the period of Hajj, because some acts of Hajj can be performed any time during this period. For example, the Tawaf-ul-qudoom, followed by the Sai' of Hajj cannot be performed before Shawwal, while it can be performed any day after the beginning of Shawwal. Similarly, an Umrah performed before Shawwal cannot be treated as the Umrah of Tamattu', while the Umrah performed in Shawwal can be affiliated to the Hajj, making it a Hajj of Tamattu'. Moreover, ihram of Hajj should not be started before Shawwal, because it is makrooh. For these reasons, these three months have been named as the 'months of Hajj' and the month of Shawwal has the distinction of being the first of these.
The second meritorious aspect of Shawwal is that it has been chosen by Allah Almighty for the celebration of "Eid-ul-Fitr", one of the only two annual festivals recognised by the Shari'ah. This happy day is designed by the Shari'ah as a sign of gratefulness by the Muslims on the accomplishment of Ramadan, and as an immediate reward by Allah Almighty for those who spent the month of Ramadan in fasting and performing other forms of worship.
Instead of commemorating an event from the past, the Shari'ah has prescribed the first of Shawwal as an annual festival for the Muslims at an occasion when they themselves accomplish a great worship. This approach reminds the Muslims that they should not rely only on the accomplishments of their ancestors, rather, they should themselves perform meritorious acts to please their Creator.
In prescribing the ways to celebrate the happy day, Islam has adopted another unique approach. The festivals of other religions or nations normally comprise of some acts of rejoicing and enjoyment. The whole happy day is normally spent in dancing, singing and playing.
In contrast, Islam has prescribed a simple yet graceful way to observe the happy day. First of all, it is mandatory on all the well-off Muslims to start their day by paying "Sadaqat-ul-Fitr" to the poor of their society, so that they too may enjoy the day along with others, and may not be worried for earning their livelihood at least on that day of happiness.
After paying the "Sadaqat-ul-Fitr", the Muslims are required to proceed to an open place where they can offer the Eid prayer collectively. In this way, they are supposed to present themselves before their Creator and offer two rak'ats of this special type of prayer, which makes them receive blessings from Allah Almighty and start their celebration by these divine blessings.
After the prayers, they are supposed to rejoice the day in a responsible manner, without violating the limits prescribed for them and never indulging in the acts prohibited by Allah Almighty.
Keeping this point in view, we will now discuss specific rules prescribed for observing the day of Eid-ul-Fitr.
The night preceding Eid-ul-Fitr:
It had been the practice of the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) that he would not sleep in the night preceding the day of Eid-ul-Fitr. This night has been named in a Hadith as the Night of Reward (Lailat-ul-Jaiza). Allah Almighty bestows his rewards on those who have spent the month of Ramadan abiding by the dictates of the Shari'ah, and all their prayers in this night are accepted. Therefore, it is desirable to offer Nafl prayers in this night. The Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) is reported to have said: Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two Eids, expecting rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die. (Ibn-e-Majah)
To benefit from this opportunity, one should perform as much worship in this night as he can, and should pray for all his needs and desires.
Before going to Eid prayer:
The following acts are prescribed as Sunnah at the beginning of the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, before proceeding to the Eid prayer:
1. To wake up early in the morning.
2. To clean one's teeth with a Miswaak or a brush.
3. To take a bath.
4. To put on one's best available clothes.
5. To wear perfume.
6. To eat a sweet food, preferably dates, before the Eid prayer.
7. To recite the following Takbeer in low voice, while going to the Eid prayer: “Allaho Akbar, Allaho Akbar, La Ilaaha Illa-Allaho Wa-Allaho Akbar, Allaho Akbar, Wa Lillahil-Hamd.'
Sadaqat-ul-Fitr is an obligation for every Muslim, male or female, who owns 613.35 grams of silver or its equivalent, either in the form of money, ornaments, stock-in-trade, or in the form of some goods or commodities beyond one's normal needs. Every person who owns such an amount has to pay Sadaqat-ul-Fitr, not only on behalf of himself, but also on behalf of his minor children. The prescribed amount of Sadaqat-ul-Fitr is 1.75 Kilograms of wheat or its value in money. This amount is prescribed for paying Sadaqat-ul-Fitr for one person only. If a person has some minor children, the same amount has to be paid on behalf of each one of them separately. The following points must be remembered concerning the payment of Sadaqat-ul-Fitr:
1. Sadaqat-ul-Fitr is obligated on each adult male or female separately, and the relevant adult person himself is responsible to pay it. The husband is not required to pay Sadaqat-ul-Fitr on behalf of his wife nor is the wife supposed to pay it on behalf of her husband. Similarly, a father is not bound to pay Sadaqat-ul-Fitr on behalf of his adult children or vice versa. However, if the head of the family, by his own free will, wishes to pay Sadaqat-ul-Fitr for each one of the members of his family, he should seek their authorisation for that purpose. In this case, the Sadaqat-ul-Fitr paid by him will be valid on their behalf. If he did not pay the Sadaqat-ul-Fitr on behalf of any of the members of his family, he will not be responsible for it. Rather, it is the duty of every adult member of the family to discharge his own obligation or to request the head of the family to pay it on his or her behalf.
2. It is a Sunnah that the Sadaqat-ul-Fitr is paid before performing the Eid prayer. It can also be paid before the Eid day, but it is not advisable to delay it up to the performance of Eid prayer. However, if a person has failed to pay on its proper time, he should pay it as soon as possible, whereby the obligation will stand discharged.
3. The Sadaqat-ul-Fitr is not necessary on behalf of a child who was born after the break of dawn in the Eid day, nor is it necessary to pay Sadaqat-ul-Fitr on behalf of a person who dies before the dawn of the Eid day.
4. Sadaqat-ul-Fitr should be paid only to a person who is entitled to receive Zakat.
The Eid prayer:
The second obligation on Eid day is to offer the Eid prayer. Some rules in this respect are mentioned hereunder:
1. The Eid prayer is ‘Wajib' (obligatory) on every male Muslim.
2. The Eid prayer can be performed any time between the Ishraaq and Zawaal.
3. It is preferable to offer the Eid prayer in an open field and not in a mosque. However, if it is difficult for any reason to offer it in an open field, it can also be offered in a big mosque.
4. It is not advisable to offer the Eid prayer in every mosque. Rather, it is preferable that the people from several small mosques get together to either offer the prayer in an open field or, in its absence, in a big mosque which can accommodate a large number of people.
5. No Nafl prayer can be performed before the Eid prayer, neither in one's home, nor at the place of Eid prayer. Similarly, Nafl prayer cannot be offered after the Eid prayer at the same place. However, it can be offered after one comes back to his home.
6. The Eid prayer has neither Azan nor Iqaamat.
How to offer Eid prayer:
The Eid prayer has two rak'at to offer in the normal way, with the only addition of six Takbeers, three of them in the beginning of the first rak'at, and three of them just before ruku' in the second rak'at. The detailed way of offering the Eid prayer is as follows:
The Imam will begin the prayer without Azan or Iqaamat. He will begin the prayer by reciting Takbeer (Allaho Akbar). You should raise your hands up to the ears, and reciting the Takbeer, you give a little pause, during which you should recite Sana' (Subhanak Allahumma...). After the completion of Sana' the Imam will recite Takbeer three times, and after reciting each Takbeer in a low voice, you should bring your hands down and leave them earthwards. But, after the third Takbeer, you should set them at the level of your navel as you do in the normal prayer.
After these three Takbeers, the Imam will recite the Holy Qur'aan, which you should listen quietly. The rest of the rak'at will be performed in the normal way.
After rising for the second rak'at, the Imam will begin the recitations from the Qur'aan, during which you should remain calm and quiet. When the Imam finishes the recitation, he will recite three Takbeers once again, but this time it will be before bowing down for ruku'. At each Takbeer, you should raise your hands up to the ears, and after saying “Allaho Akbar' bring them down and leave them earthwards. After these three Takbeers have been called and completed, the Imam will say another Takbeer for bowing down into the ruku' position. At this Takbeer, you need not raise your hands. You just bow down for your ruku' saying, “Allaho Akbar.' The rest of the prayer will be performed in its usual way.
The sermon of Eid-ul-Fitr:
In this prayer, the sermon is a Sunnah and is delivered after the prayer, unlike the Friday prayer, where it is obligatory and delivered before the prayer. However, listening to the sermon of Eid prayer is Wajib or necessary and it must be heard in perfect peace and silence.
It is a Sunnah that the Imam begins the first sermon by reciting Takbeers, 'Allaho Akbar' nine times and the second sermon with reciting it seven times.
Note: The way of offering Eid prayer described above is according to the Hanafi school of Muslim jurists. Some other jurists, like Imam Shafe'i, have some other ways to offer the Eid prayer. They recite the Takbeer twelve times before beginning the recitations from the Holy Qur'aan in both rak'at. This way is also permissible. If the Imam, being of the Shafe'i school, follows this way, you can also follow him. Both ways are based on the practice of the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam).
Six fasts in the month of Shawwal:
It is commendable to keep six fasts in the month of Shawwal. The Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) has said: whoever completes fasts of Ramadan then adds to them the fasts of six days in the month of Shawwal, it will carry the reward of fasting for the whole year. (Sahih Muslim)
This Hadith has described the great reward of six fasts of this month. Therefore, the Muslims should take the opportunity of acquiring such an enormous reward from Allah Almighty. It is more preferable to start these fasts from the 2nd of Shawwal and keep fasting up to the 7th of it. However, if they are kept in other days, it is hoped that the requirement of the above Hadith may also be fulfilled.

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