By Mustenser Qamar , khuddam

Over 1.6 billion Muslims around the world will be celebrating the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr over the weekend, which marks the end of the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan.

Surely, it is a time to rejoice! A time of happiness and joy! One may think that the long arduous month of fasting and abstaining from food, drink and the pleasures of the world is finally over! The burden has finally been released and now is a time to relax, eat and enjoy. Not quite. Ramadan is a month of blessings; a spiritually enlightening month for reformation, realisation and reflection; by no means a burden. The celebration of Eid is in actual fact a commemoration of many positive changes brought about in a Muslim.

Whether it be Christmas, Diwali, Remembrance Day or Independence Day; all these occasions have a significance in reminding people of an important message or historical event. Likewise, the celebration of Eid has a much greater and deeper significance. Eid is a time to reflect over spiritual improvement and resolve not to lose what one has gained during the month of Ramadan, rather, not only to maintain it, but to press forward to even higher spiritual and moral gains.

The main event of the Eid celebration is the additional 6th prayer on the day of Eid. This in itself demonstrates that the true purpose of Eid is to be reminded of the Creator, to turn to Him for help and the strength to pursue and proceed in the acquisition of higher spiritual and moral gains throughout the rest of the year too. Eid is a reminder to Muslims to not only struggle and toil for spiritual gain for one month, but to keep that progress going throughout the year.

The occasion of Eid also reminds Muslims of another lesson learnt during the month of Ramadan; to spend on the poor and needy. Fitrana is a compulsory donation by Muslims to be given to the poor and needy before the occasion of the Eid celebration. This enjoins Muslims to celebrate and rejoice with every member of the society and help the poor and needy throughout the year. The underlying message given by Islam is to include all members of society in your times of happiness and joy. It is with this spirit in mind that members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community worldwide celebrate Eid by sharing sweets and confectionary with their neighbours. Members of the local community are often invited to the homes of Ahmadis or to the local mosque to join in the celebration of Eid. Islam encourages sharing times of happiness with all members of the society, regardless of race, colour, creed or faith.

During my time at a university in London I remember going door-to-door distributing boxes of chocolates in our neighbourhood with my fellow Ahmadi Muslim brothers. The faces of fear of seeing a Muslim at their doorsteps quickly changed to smiles when the message of peace and love with a box of chocolates was given. I recall the Eid parties where hundreds of guests were invited to join our happiness. Eid reminds me of the days when members of our community celebrate by visiting old people’s homes, hospitals and hospices with sweets, chocolates and food packs to share their happiness. This year is no different; the relatively small community of 400 or so members across New Zealand along with the millions of members spanning over 206 countries will be carrying on this tradition of reaching out to the wider communities, neighbours, the poor and the needy.

Eid for Muslims is a reminder of the true teachings of Islam; teachings of love, peace, harmony and integration. No wonder the ‘Unislamic’ state in Iraq and the Levant has banned this truly Islamic festival. Whilst they spread their unislamic teachings we are committed to continue in our struggle to correct and dispel the wrong distorted image of Islam presented by these extremist factions, by spreading the message of love and peace taught to us through the paragon of the prophet Muhammad and presented to us through the peaceful teachings of Islam.