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Islamic Studies

'Eid Primer for Converts, their Families and One's Co-Workers and Friends

Asalamu alaykum

For many of us, the ‘Eid prayer is a simple ritual that we observe twice a year. However, if one recently accepted Islam, or is dealing with the responsibility of his first ‘Eid khutbah, the ‘Eid prayer begins to seem as something truly daunting. With that in mind, I decided to compile a simple primer on the ‘Eid prayer. I hope this facilitates its observance, makes it easy for converts, their families, ones co-workers and first time preachers.

What is ‘Eid al-Fitir?

The word ‘Eid in Arabic means holiday and the word fitar means to break. Since this holiday takes place the day after the month of Ramadan ends, this holiday is given this name, “The holiday for breaking the fast.”

What happens on that day?

On the day of ‘Eid the entire Muslim community congregates in observance of the ‘Eid prayer.

What Time is This Prayer?

It can be prayed anytime after sunrise until noon and must be done so in congregation.

Who’s invited? Can I bring my non-Muslim friends and family members?

The entire community is encouraged to come, and you are definitely encouraged to bring all of your friends and family to the prayer and the celebrations thereafter!

How does one pray this prayer? Is it different than the Friday Prayer?

The ‘Eid prayer is similar to the Friday prayer in its number of cycles, two, that it is an auditory prayer and that both have sermons. However, unlike the Friday prayer, the ‘Eid prayer’s sermon follows the prayer.

The second difference lies in its number of takbirs (when the prayer leader says, “God is the greatest” which starts the prayer). In the ‘Eid prayer there are 6 additional takbir added to the original in the prayer’s first cycle, and 5 added to the second cycle of prayer after he rises from the sitting position to stand for the second cycle.

How it’s done:

The first cycle- The opening takbir, then the prayer leaders says “Allahu akbar” [God is the greatest] six mores times and then he recites the opening chapter from the Qur’an followed by a short reading from another chapter of the Qur’an or one of the smaller chapters.

Arising for the second cycle- One says “Allahu Akbar” to arise and stands for the second cycle of prayer then states Allahu Akbar 5 more times before reading the opening chapter from the Qur’an.

Note: if one is following the Imam, its much more easier. Just follow him!

Are their any special chapters of Qur’an that should be recited during this prayer?

It was the practice of the Prophet to read, after the first chapter of Qur’an, the 87th chapter in the first cycle of prayer; the 88th in the second cycle.  Other considered it commendable to recite the 50th chapter from the Qur’an in the first cycle and the 54th in the second. However, if one is unable to read those chapters, there is nothing wrong with reading whatever he knows from the Qur’an.

What if one comes late and misses the extra takbirs?

If one comes after the preacher has already started, say he has already stated “God is the greatest” 3 times in addition to the opening statement “God is the Greatest”, then that person should began is prayer by saying, “God is the Greatest” and join the Imam. However once the preacher begins to recite the Qur’an, the late comer should keep saying “God is the greatest” [not in a loud voice] until he arrives to the total of 7 extra takbirs or 5 if he comes late for the second Rakat.

Thus, in the above scenario where the preacher said 3, the person would have said a total of 4 with him. However, once the preacher started to read Qur’an, the person should add an additional 4 takbir [saying God is the greatest] making it a total of 7.

If it were the second cycle, the person, once the preacher starts reading Qur’an, should add 2 more to reach the total of 5.

If one arrived late and started his/her prayer with the second cycle, missing the first. Then he/she should say 7 when he/shes  stand to complete the prayer after the preacher closes the prayer.

If the person comes late and finds the congregation at the end of the prayer, meaning he missed all of the takbirs, he should arise, after the closure of the prayer, and say 7 takbirs in the first cycle and 5 in the second.

Note: one may pray behind any preacher who observes the takbirs in a different fashion recognized by Islamic ritual law. There is no problem to follow them in this; one should not make it a big issue.

What is the ruling for ‘Eid Prayer?

Eid prayer is a highly encouraged act for those ordered to pray the Friday prayer and recommended for those who are not ordered to pray the Friday prayer according to a group of scholars. However, there are other great scholars who hold it to be a religious obligation.

What Should the Preacher Talk about?

In addition to what constitutes the normal recognized procedures related to the sermon, one should insure that his sermon is relevant; providing the community with a feeling of empowerment and purpose. It is also good to channel the community into taking part in the different committees and programs that take place in the local mosque. One should also try and make the speech relevant to the attendees addressing each by drawing on valuable lessons that are practical and measurable.

I have a Family Member/Friend Who converted to Islam. Although I’m not Muslim can I Congratulate them and Offer Gifts?

Sure, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that religiously and no Muslim should take offense to it. If they do, please feel free to give their gifts to me!

Recommended acts:

  1. To keep night vigil the night before the ‘Eid prayer*
  2. To take a ritual bath prior to the prayer
  3. To apply perfume [for men only]
  4. To wear one’s best clothing
  5. To return from the prayer using a different route
  6. To eat something before the ‘Eid prayer. It is best to eat a few dates and if proven difficult, then drinking some water as this is the sunna of the Prophet [note for ‘Eid al-Adha the opposite holds true].
  7. To set out for the Masjid early engaging in Takbir. This is truly one of the greatest memories any family can have so seize this moment and engage is takbir with your families. If you’re solo, then know that you are engaging in takbir with the angels!
  8. To pray in an open space
  9. One should not pray before or after the ‘Eid prayer
  10. It’s sermon is like that of Jum’ah, save it comes after the prayer.

May Allah bless you and give you the best ‘Eid ever!

Suhaib [William] Webb

* Note: many consider this a comendable act, however the narration attributed to the Prophet [sa], “Whoever brings to life the night of ‘Eid [with worship] his heart will be alive on a day when the hearts will die” Is weak as noted in Tadhkirat al-Mawdu’at vol. 1 pg. 47.

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship.

Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010 and his website, www.SuhaibWebb.com, was voted the best “Blog of the Year” by the 2009 Brass Crescent awards.

Suhaib Webb has lectured extensively around the world including in the Middle East, East Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America. Upon returning from his studies in Egypt, Webb lived in the Bay Area, California, where he worked with the Muslim American Society from Fall 2010 to Winter 2011. He currently serves as the Imam of the Islamic Society of Boston’s Cultural Center (ISBCC).

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