Muslims celebrate Eid as Ramadan comes to an end
Thursday marked the end of the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan. It concluded with Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast.
Eid, as it is commonly referred to, begins at sunset on the night of the first sighting of the crescent moon, signalling in a new lunar cycle after Ramadan. The festival is celebrated with traditional rituals such as prayer, sermons and giving to charity. Eid ends with a community feast to officially break the Ramadan fast.
While traditional prayers at the mosque and communal gatherings were prohibited this year, the experience of Ramadan and Eid were still meaningful and impactful for many.
Shamaila Ali is one of many Muslims in Bermuda who participated in fasting for Ramadan this year. The experience has become a rewarding part of her spiritual life, after being raised as a Muslim and finding a deeper connection to Allah in early adulthood.
“I was born a Muslim but that does not mean I knew everything about it. As a child you are engaged in having fun and playing. You grow old and you realise that the studies are important, and your head is stuck in books. You never find time to search for your soul and its needs.
“Luckily, I had few months off between college and university. I took that time to revert to spiritual books and detailed translation and explanation of the Koran. It is then that I found myself knowing Islam truly. Since then, I have encompassed it in my daily routine.”
Ms Ali shares some of her experiences with Ramadan, fasting and spiritual renewal. She explains that fasting is only a small part of the tradition.
“Ramadan is the month of forgiveness. Fasting is only one component. You should be patient, forgiving, helpful, give charity to poor and needy people. Try to help family and community in whatever help they need and contribute as a useful member to the society that you live in.”
The “most rewarding part” of Ramadan is it enables Muslims to find a routine for their “body and spirit” in the coming months.
“In this blessed month of Ramadan is the night of Al-Qadr or night of power. It is the night when Gabriel descends with a company of angels, with Allah’s permission. Whoever prays that night will be blessed, rewarded and their past sins forgiven. It is mine and every Muslim’s wish to seek and find that night.”
Likewise, Yolanda Bashir-Paige has had a “particularly special” experience with Ramadan this year as she learnt the “art of fluidity”. As with most Muslims, Ramadan is a time of deep spiritual reflection that encourages her to disconnect from the world and focus on deepening her connection with Allah.
“The act of fasting has redirected the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities,” she said. “I don’t engage in much social interaction, as some aspects of life that can be so loud and distracting.
“We also remove ourselves from worldly pleasures. For me, it was refraining from Facebook for a month. This has provided me quiet time to focus on me, my children, my family and most importantly, time to please Allah.”
This year, in particular, she has become “more aligned with the practice of Islam”, Ms Bashir-Paige said.
“I have the learnt the art of fluidity – moving with the tide and not against. Hence, leaving fate in the hands of Allah; never questioning day to day. Long story short, this month of Ramadan has been a period of resetting, balance and grounding.”
The spiritual lessons learnt through Ramadan apply throughout the rest of the year, serving as a transformational time for those who participate.
“When we are spiritually aligned, we will receive his blessings.” Ms Bashir-Paige said. “By making many changes in my life to please Allah, I am witnessing this as we speak. In my experience, when you choose to make indifferent or unhealthy choices, your blessings will be obscured and blocked.
“At this point in my life, I need mental clarity, understanding, humility, love and peace. Islam brings all of this in perspective.”
Customarily the Festival of Eid would have been a big public event. But the pandemic and ongoing restrictions on gatherings have meant that couldn’t happen this year. Instead of cancelling it all together, the Masjid Muhammad hosted the Eid Prayer via zoom and welcomed the community to a drive through luncheon.
Of course, there is disappointment within the community in not being able to connect as normal, but Ms Ali believes that Allah is in control, despite all that is going on in the world.
“I think coronavirus has affected everyone in this world,” she said. “We plan something, and another thing happens. We don’t know what lies in the future. We should play our part and be good in our deeds and support each other during these times – financially, physically and mentally. God is also Al-Makir, which means ‘the planner’, and He is the best of planners.”