You have a diverse group of friends, and co-workers. You know people from all walks of life, and you work hard to be accepting, and open to everyone. You like to travel. You like to meet people who are different from you. You like to learn about other cultures, and religions.

You understand that having a basic knowledge of the different ways in which people express their faith, and their culture, is part of your responsibility as a global citizen. It’s this responsibility that drives you to learn. Finding ways to connect across religious and cultural backgrounds is more important than ever. Specifically, in today’s climate, it is important to learn as much as you can about Muslims and Muslim holidays.

Everything a Global Citizen Needs to Know about Eid al-Fitr

Because of that you would like to learn about one of the most important Islamic holidays, Eid al-Fitr. Here is everything you need to know to be able to speak thoughtfully, and intelligently about Eid al-Fitr.

Fasting for Ramadan

To understand Eid al-Fitr you first need to know a little bit about Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, and it is observed by fasting. This fasting honors, “the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad,” and it is one of the Five Pillars of the Islamic faith.

During Ramadan, Muslims must fast from dawn until sunset. This means they go without food and water, and they even abstain from other behaviors that are considered sinful. In fact, during the holy month, even smoking is off limits during fasting.

In addition to fasting, you’ll also find that Muslims engage in more prayer during Ramadan, and they also focus more on charitable acts, and self-reflection.

Feast of Breaking the Fast

It’s no wonder that at the end of the month Muslims are ready for a celebration. After fasting, praying, and reflecting, they are ready to feast. That’s what an Eid is. It is Muslim religious festival, and Eid al-Fitr translates roughly to Feast of Breaking the Fast.

Eid al-Fitr is the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, and it takes place on the first day of the month of Shawwal. As with many religions, the moon plays a big role in the way that holidays, and celebrations are calculated. Often Eid al-Fitr celebrations begin in the early morning with the sighting of the month’s new moon.

A Chance to Gather Together

Celebrations of the holiday can last anywhere from one to three days, depending often on the country in which people live. Just as American and Italian Christians, for example, have different customs for celebrating religious holidays, so too do Muslims around the world.

While the core of the traditions stay the same, you’ll find many different customs in many different countries. Some gather in mosques to pray, and some gather in open fields. Some cultures put more or less emphasis on gift giving. Some countries make special efforts to honor the elderly. Despite these small variances, Muslims of all backgrounds enjoy a celebration in which no fasting is allowed, and in which joy and togetherness reign supreme.

It starts with solemn prayer in the morning, before sunrise, and it culminates in time spent with friends and family. They eat good food, they put up decorations, and they exchange gifts. They dress up in new clothes. They gather together, and they have fun.

They also emphasize the importance of charity, and part of the holiday’s celebration often involves giving money to the less fortunate. In fact, in Saudi Arabia, it’s a common practice for men to purchase large quantities of food, and leave them anonymously for people in need.

During the celebration, you’ll hear Muslims greet one another with the saying, “Eid Mubarak,” which means, “Blessed Eid.” You’ll see this greeting on signs, balloons, and cards.

Finding Things in Common

Sounds pretty familiar, right? It might even be comforting. It certainly can serve as a reminder of the similarities that people all over the world share regardless of their race, religion, or background. You probably often hear that humans are more alike than they are different, and examples like this prove it.

You can’t help but wonder how knowing more about Muslims, and their holidays might help change the world. Imagine if more people started asking, “what is Eid al-Fitr?” and imagine if they actually listened to the answer.

You’ve Got the Basics of Eid al-Ftir Down

Now that you know more about Eid al-Fitr you can help your Muslim friends feel welcome and accepted, and you can be a better global citizen. It brings you one step closer to be well rounded, well informed, and well liked by all.