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As the end of Ramadan draws near, we take a look at the holy Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr in order to better understand our Islamic brothers and sisters

The upcoming holiday on the 13th of May 2021 is more than just a chance for us to recuperate after a handful of busy days. For many in our country and around the world, the day marks a special occasion called Eid al-Fitr. 

Though the Philippines is a predominantly Christian community, the country is also home to some 5 million Muslims—the second largest demographic after Christians. This Thursday, they will all be celebrating Eid al-Fitr, or the end of Ramadan. 

Read also: What Should You Eat During Ramadan 2021? Suhoor And Iftar

What is Ramadan?

For Muslims, Ramadan is the holy month of fasting. In the Muslim calendar, Ramadan falls on the 9th month, which means that Eid al-Fitr falls on the 10th. Ramadan is a very special time for all Muslims as it's believed to be when God revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. To commemorate this in spirit, Muslims observe much self-restraint over the course of 30 days. It's often a time for introspection, communal prayer, and studying of or reading of the Quran. 

These acts of sacrifice are also in line with one of the five pillars of Islam, in particular with sawm, which means "to refrain" or abstinence. As such, from dawn to dusk for 30 days, Muslims avoid eating, drinking, and all forms of immoral behaviour. This includes unkind thoughts, bad deeds or intentions. Smoking and sexual behaviour are also often avoided. 

In the past, Ramadan is often observed by going to the mosque to pray. Iftar is also often observed, which is when Muslims gather together for a sunset meal. During the current pandemic, these activities have been limited to observe health protocol. 

All about Eid al-Fitr

After a month of self-restraint, it's no surprise that Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, is a very celebratory occasion. It falls on the first day of Shawaal (the 10th month on the Muslim calendar) and is often commemorated with an exchange of gifts, a large meal together with loved ones, and much hugging. Perhaps one of the best ways people celebrate Eid al-Fitr is with plenty of dessert! Dates, cookies, and baklava are just some of the common food items chanced upon the dining table. There's also a very important tradition that Muslims observe, called zakat al-Fitr, which is to give to charity (another of the five pillars of Islam). 

A familiar greeting you may hear is "Eid Mubarak", which means have a blessed Eid!

Unfortunately, the current pandemic is likely to have a huge effect on this very important occasion, but nevertheless, we're sure it will be a meaningful day for everyone celebrating. 

Read also: Pope Francis Makes A Historic Visit To Iraq, The Cradle Of The Abrahamic Religions

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