Campus overlooks Eid al-Fitr’s meaning
Having no school yesterday was great, but not many students or faculty members knew why we had school off. Sure, ‘Eid al-Fitr’ was written as the reason on school calendars and syllabi for classes that usually meet Tuesday, but the significance of the holiday was likely lost on many people on campus.
Eid al-Fitr is a day of celebration, marking the end of the Islamic month of fasting. This month, known as Ramadan, is one of increased spirituality, prayer, charity and effort to build moral character. Muslims fast each day of this lunar month from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from all food and drink, including water. We fast to increase our consciousness of God, to remember that He is the one who provides us with sustenance.
During the fast, Muslims also abstain from smoking, sexual relations and moral vices like lying and gossiping. Others try to stop listening to music with vulgar lyrics or try to stop watching movies and television. These are all ways of decreasing your sensory input to allow your spiritual input to increase.
When Ramadan comes to end, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, thanking Allah (God) for allowing us to witness the blessed month of Ramadan. Since the Islamic calendar goes by the lunar months, Muslims wait for the sighting of the new moon after 29 days of Ramadan before declaring the end of the month. In many Muslim communities around the country, the day was predetermined by astronomical calculation as being on Monday. However, the Islamic Society of Central New York, on Comstock Avenue, waited for the moon to be physically sighted on Sunday evening somewhere in North America. Since the moon was sighted, Eid al-Fitr was declared to be on Monday.
The announcement was posted at 11 p.m. Sunday night on the mosque’s Web site, and word spread by e-mail, text messages and phone calls. Muslim friends and family members greeted each other with ‘Eid Mubarak,’ a traditional Arabic saying that means ‘Blessed Eid.’
The next morning, Muslims, young and old, male and female, arrived at the OnCenter Complex at about 8 p.m. for the special Eid prayer. Afterward, many students visited the houses of family and friends. Children were given money, gifts or candy from parents, relatives and community members. Muslim families must also give a certain amount in charity, the equivalent of feeding one hungry person in the community, or about $8 per person for each member of the household. It is a way of remembering the blessings Allah has given your family on this day by remembering those who are needy.
Though there are only a few hundred students, staff and faculty who actually celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Fitr at Syracuse University, everyone can use this time to reconnect with family and friends or give a small amount in charity. As members of one of the only universities in this country that recognizes Eid al-Fitr as a school holiday, we should take the opportunity to engage in another culture, appreciate the diversity of our campus and maybe even wish a fellow Muslim student ‘Eid Mubarak!’
Mariam Jukaku is a guest columnist for The Daily Orange. E-mail her at email@example.com.
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