Saturday, September 4, 2010
A few more days and the 1.82 billion Muslims of the world will celebrate Aidilfitri, the end of Ramadhan - but not of fasting! Many will fast for another six days after a few days break for the 'Hariraya'. With that addition a Muslim is considered to have fasted the whole year according to the Islamic faith.
Aidilfitri is celebrated like other 'holy' days in other religions ( Christmas, CNY. Thaipusam etc.) Unfortunately people nowadays take all 'holy' days as mere holidays - time to take leave from work and celebrate like a vacation, some with more festivities than others. The religious obligations and ceremonies implied are not strictly applied anymore. Merry-making and festivities take precedence over everything else.
The same it is with Aidilfitri. For one month the Muslims have been fasting in the day and 'feasting' from dusk to dawn. Now they can feast again in the daytime, beginning on the first of Shawal, the tenth month of the Muslim calender year. It's the day to put on their best attire (must be new), attend the aidilfitri prayer at the local mosques or madrasah after a good and lavish breakfast, then visit relatives and friends attacking the food and delicacies they serve and seeking forgiveness for all the 'sins' and 'sacrileges' committed against them. The young will, of course, expect some monetary gifts ( now widely known as 'ang pow') from those they visit. The adults will also visit the graves of their beloved who had passed away ( sometimes insisting that their children follow them) to offer prayers and some posthumous words of endearment. This may also be done on the second or third day of Hariraya, and often done at convenience or even forgotten over the love of merry-making.
What is often forgotten as well by some of the 'mpdern' Muslims is the payment of a special tithe for the poor ie. zakat fitrah, before the Aidilfirti celebration. They don't realize that their fasting and all the religious activities in the month of Ramadhan will or may not be accepted by Allah if they failed to pay the zakat - now fixed at RM7+ per person in the family for Selangor. The acceptance will remain 'suspended' until the zakat fitrah is paid, and paying it after the morning Aidilfitri prayer will not absolve the obligation.
Even the fasting is not all that is required of the Muslims as an obligations for the month of Ramadhan. In addition to the normal prayers carrried out five times in a day and night, there is the Tarawih, the Witir and the Qiamul Lail ( Tasbih )and other prayers that are 'sunnah' (preferred) but which had taken on an obligatory mantle. The two raka'at Tasbih prayer to be performed between 3 - 5 am takes about half an hour to complete since it requires a 750x recitation of the tasbih (subhanallah, walhamdulillah, walaillaha illallah wallahu akbar etc.). A Muslim must perform the Tasbih prayer at least once in a lifetime.
Every religious act performed during the Ramadhan month, of course. gets 70x more points cpmpared to its performance at other times. The reading of the al-Quran outside the month of Ramadhan for example, gives you 7 points per alphabet ( not words!) but done in the month of Ramadhan that is mulplied by 70. Above that you get points for all other activities related to fasting which include taking a short nap after the performance of normal work. Yes. the blessings of Allah re most bountiful in the month of Ramadhan encompassing all acts of worship (solat), god deeds (amal soleh) and giving away a part of our worldly gains ( rezki) to the needy (sedekah).
Hence the Adifitri celebration after fulfilling all the requirements of Ramadhan is a real Victory Reception. It should become a turning point for one who had before the Ramadhan of each year taken his or her religious obligations lightly, fulfilled only a minimum of the requirements or even neglect most of them. It should mark a new birth, a new awareness of oneself and one's obligations, a new preparedness for a meaningful living.
The question to ask ourselves is whether the Ramadhan of this year had done all those to us or is it just the end of the fasting month and after that we can eat again in the daytime, continue to do all the things we have done before, and celebrate with feasting and merry-making to our heart's content? When the call to the morning Aidilfitri prayer is heard on the day of celebration, we can ask ourself wether we're a changed person or just the same old bloke, ready to take on life again with all its pleasures and rewards, without a thought for who maketh it all possible. Only we ourselves and Allah know about it. Subhanallah.
Selamat Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin.