This Eid Isn’t ‘Unusual’ – Do We Even Know True Meaning of Ramzan?

Eid in Lockdown: The money which we earlier spent on iftaar parties is now being spent on charity as ‘zakat’.

Published24 May 2020, 05:53 AM IST
Life
3 min read

Nostalgic feelings, memories of the past, wanderlust amid claustrophobic surroundings while waiting for the arrival of the once-in-a-year festival, this year's Eid in the time of a global pandemic, will be an unusual one for Muslims around the world.

Millions of Muslims around the world are struggling to find different ways to celebrate Ramzan this year, as restrictions imposed by the countries to curb the spread of coronavirus have closed mosques and banned gatherings.

For Muslims, Ramzan is not just another month in the Islamic calendar but a special and important month because it allows for a period of introspection, communal prayer (ṣalāt) in the mosque, and reading of the Qurʾān.

It is believed that God forgives the sins of those who observe the holy month with fasting, prayer, and faithful intention.

It doesn’t end here. During Ramzan, people organise iftaar parties, wear new clothes, spend more and save less. This is because they get a ‘short deadline’ to multiply good deeds.

Ramzan: A Period Of Self-Control, In Keeping With ‘Sawm’

Ramzan, however, is less a period of atonement than it is a time for Muslims to practise self-restraint, in keeping with ṣawm (Arabic: “to refrain”), one of the pillars of Islam (the five basic tenets of Islam). Although ṣawm is most commonly understood as the obligation to fast during Ramzan, it is more broadly interpreted as the obligation to refrain between dawn and dusk from food, drink, sexual activity, and all forms of ‘immoral behaviour’, including impure or unkind thoughts. Thus, false words or bad deeds or intentions are as destructive as is eating or drinking during the fasting hours.

Ironically, sawm (to refrain) is absent while throwing grand iftaar parties and designing elaborate Eid attire. And this is the reason why I say, Muslims aren’t experiencing the same Ramzan this year as they used to.

Had we known the true meaning of Ramzan and its underlying principle we would not have felt any different this year.

It's significant that people are not missing out on the real spirit of Ramzan but the pomp and show which is generally associated with extravagant iftaar parties and Eid shopping. When we are struggling to fight the pandemic and our lives have come to a halt, it’s high time we revisit the core meaning of Ramzan and stop complaining about not getting to attend lavish iftaars and not getting to buy new clothes.

Quran Teaches Us to Never Lose Hope

Though the lockdown has significantly affected Muslims celebrating Ramzan, it’s a good chance to acknowledge the spiritual aspect of this occasion. The crisis has made many of us even more conscious of the spiritual obligations of this time, and compelled us to navigate these new circumstances in creative ways to keep the Ramzan spirit alive. Technology has aided this immensely. Thanks to live streaming and group calls, people are listening to live Quran recitations and watching live prayers around the world.

The money which we earlier splurged on iftaar parties, we are now using for charity as zakat (one of the pillars of Islam).

Many of my Muslim friends have turned their homes into mosques, by decorating their homes with familiar intricate designs and praying in the congregation with their own families at home. Amid this stressful situation, instead of choosing special dresses, their priorities have been shifted to helping the underprivileged.

To all my Muslim friends who are missing those crowded shopping lanes diffused with the aroma of biryani, mosques decorated with fairy lights, chandeliers, etc, you need to know that the Quran teaches us to never lose hope and to continue to support our communities for the greater good. This Ramzan is bittersweet and one that will be remembered forever. “Verily, with hardship, there is ease”. (Quran Chapter 94, Verse 5)

Eid in Lockdown: Put On Your Best Dress & Keep Smiling

Let us resolve to continue with all the virtuous deeds we kept during this Ramzan. Let us also vow to comprehend its underlying principle to eschew all unrighteous acts we avoided during Ramzan.

Just because Eid is going to be in lockdown this year doesn't mean that sunnah has disappeared. You should still dress up in your best clothes, and be cheerful.

And, let us make sure it is not an occasion for us to go back to our old sinful life of envy, mischief, betrayal, lying, cheating, forgery, etc. Going back to an ‘unholy life’ only makes us hypocrites.

Eid Mubarak.

(Huzaifa Shaikh is a law student and an avid reader. His interest lies in writing about contemporary issues. He tweets @Huzaifa5946604. This is a personal blog and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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