As Muslims bid the month of fasting farewell, they look forward to Eid-ul-Fitr – the celebration after Ramadan. The Daily Vox resident Muslims SHAAZIA EBRAHIM and FATIMA MOOSA chat about what Eid is and how it is celebrated in South Africa.
What is Eid-ul-Fitr?
Shaazia: After this solemn month of reflection and spirituality, God gave us the gift of Eid.
Fatima: Eid-ul-Fitr is basically a celebration for Muslims after the month of fasting and it’s called Eid-ul-Fitr because Muslims are supposed to discharge a fitr which is a charity during the month of fasting.
How do you wish Muslims a happy Eid?
S: The safest bet to wish a Muslim friend a happy Eid is to say: “Eid Mubarak.”
F: ‘Mubarak’ means blessings so you’re just saying, ‘Have a blessed Eid’.
When is Eid?
F: Just like with Ramadan, Eid is dependent on the moon. Every Islamic month is 29-30 days.
S: Today, after Maghrib, the evening prayers, people will go outside to look for the moon and if they spot the new moon it will be Eid in South Africa.
F: In South Africa, we have a unique custom that takes place in Cape Town. The maankykers are a group of moon-seekers go to Signal Hill and gather on the hill, pray the evening prayer and wait for the moon.
Once the moon is sighted, there is excitement allround and everyone rushes into last minute preparations for the celebrations the next day.
Is there a special Eid prayer?
F: There’s a difference between what is prescribed and how we actually celebrate it. One of the things that makes it Eid is that there’s a special prayer that takes place after the dawn prayer of Fajr, just as the sun rises. It’s called Eid Salah or Eid prayer.
S: Generally everyone is supposed to pray Eid salah but in Johannesburg women don’t go because we don’t really have access to mosques. I’ve never been for Eid salah because I was generally told that Muslim women must stay at home and pray.
F: I’ve been to Eid salah twice now, the one I go to is generally an immigrant Eid salah because there’s a lot of people from different African countries that live in my community. It’s a really nice celebration of different Muslims. I’ve seen that this year there is a push towards more family Eid salahs.
S: That’s cool because it’s inclusive and it means more women can get to experience what Eid Salah is.
What’s the chat with Muslims having to write exams on Eid day?
F: It just seems beyond ridiculous that we’re living in South Africa which prides itself on being a secular society where no religion is being highlighted over another but we get Christian holidays off but Muslim, Jewish, Hindu holidays are not understanding of them.
S: When I was at university I just thought being a Muslim means you have to stick it out, but I’m so glad to see that people don’t think that and there’s a shift towards being more inclusive and tolerant of other people’s religions.
F: We always talk of our Constitution which gives us freedom of religion and respect for all religions so it’s good that people are taking up and fighting for that right.
How else do people celebrate Eid?
F: Eid is about eating, some people have joked that it’s ‘Eat Day’. In my family we have a proper breakfast so we eat chicken, we have savouries, sweetmeats, all the baking, everything that we didn’t eat during the month we eat on that day. Then we have lunch, teatime, supper.
S: I’m vegan and my sisters are vegan too, so our Eid table is a little less full but we eat a lot of savouries and fruit and biscuits and Eid milk. Eid milk is basically just milk – in my case coconut milk – with nuts and spices and vermicelli. It’s really rich and delicious.
F: Eid milk is the best thing, we call it kheer and in Cape Town it’s boeber.
Friends and family
S: Besides the food, Eid is a day to celebrate with friends and family. You’ll travel and maybe have lunch with one side of the family and dinner with another side.
S: Eid outfits are a whole thing. People start planning what they’re going to wear on Eid from the beginning of Ramadan.
S: A huge thing about Eid is giving gifts to your friends and family and also giving charity. You have to give fitra.
F: Fitra is charity given before the Eid salah to the poor to share your wealth.
S: … and make sure that everybody can get to celebrate Eid as well. There’s a huge tradition of Eidy which is money and gifts that the older people to the younger kids.
F: It’s a tradition the world over. All the kids line up and the older people in the family give you money.
Eid Mubarak to all those celebrating. Have a good Eid!
Watch the full video below.