13 June 2018

Ethiopia: Eid Al-Fitr - a Day of Giving

Millions of Muslims around the world will celebrate the 1439th Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The holiday will be observed in various countries ranging from Ethiopia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to Saudi Arabia and US by displaying acts of faith and giving.

Holidays represent a day of charitable giving to the less fortunate and needy. They represent season of caring for others. Likewise, giving to others is an important part of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr celebrations. Many Muslims display their thanks by donating various kinds of charity to those less fortunate than themselves.

The religion teaches the faithful to observe Eid al-Fitir by maintaining support to the needy and urging them the good deeds that have been exercised during the holy month of Ramadan to be internalized into their personality and manifested in their day to day lives.

According to Sheikh Mohammed-Amin Jamal, President of Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, Eid has a big role in enhancing interaction between people from different economic and religious backgrounds.

While Eid al-Fitr celebrations are similar in most places, some countries do have their own unique customs. In Ethiopia, Sheikh Mohammed said, it is customary practice to observe Eid by calling families, relatives and neighbors as well as the needy, regardless of their economic status and religious affiliations.

He said: "Eid ceremony, thus, enables people to exchange views about their livelihood, and thereby bolster their understating about the values each religion attaches to, and enable them to live in harmony by appreciating and respecting their differences."

It also would have a role in strengthening the much-cherished Ethiopian culture of sharing with the disfavored and sharing bread with all walks of life, he adds.

On Eid, Muslims are expected to solace and support people that are in various difficult situations, including those in grief, in jail, and hospital, and those who do not have access to food, clothes and other needs so as they would be able to celebrate the day in same manner.

Mentioning how the Prophet Muhammad made Zakat al-Fitr (charity given to the poor at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan) on every Muslim whether young and or male or female to enable the needy to celebrate the holiday along with themselves, Sheikh Mohammed says it plays a very important role in the development of the bonds of community since the rich are obliged to come in direct contact with the poor, and the poor are put in contact with the extremely poor.

This contact between the various levels of society helps to build real bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood within the Islamic community and trains those who have to be generous to those who do not have.

He said: "Charities such as Zakat al-Fitr are the manifestation of the faithful's brotherhood regardless of age, geographic, linguistic or ethnic differences.

Furthermore, Sheikh Mohammed noted that strong social bonds among Muslims and with their fellow non-Muslim brothers and sisters are so essential in a country like Ethiopia where people with different faiths live together.

"The social bonds enable people, regardless of religious affiliations, stand together to work the country's vision of bring economic development and build democracy while defending its interests."

Sheikh Mohammed also called on the Muslim community to maintain their culture of observing events such as Eid al-Fitr in a manner that helps enhance harmony and understanding with their fellow non-Muslim brothers and sisters. According to him, this would help the country to achieve its vision of building peace and economy through active participation of people with different religious backgrounds.

Moreover, the understating among people with different religions would play an indispensable role to support the nation's engagement to build the democratic system and ensure the constitutionally-granted citizens' rights.

Closeness among Muslims and non-Muslims in events such as Eid al-Fitr would also have a great role to fight the destructive activities of some radicalized interest groups such as Wahhabism - an ultra-conservative brand of Islam that aims to disrupt the long cherished religious coexistence in Ethiopia and try to instigate conflicts among people with different religions.

Those groups try to instigate Ethiopia's moderate Muslim, especially the youth to have radicalized viewpoint and wage unnecessary jihad against their brothers and sisters.

Cognizant to the groups' interest to not only disrupt the peaceful balance that exist between religions, but also destabilize Ethiopia's long peace and stability, due attention need to be given to the society, especially the youth, not to be hijacked by their destructive propaganda.

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