Major Islamic Festivals
Muharram, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-uz-Zoha are the major Islamic festivals
Islam comprises of a teeming queue of rituals and customs that govern the lifestyle and faith of its followers. But, its festivals that speak volumes of not only its past and present but also of the face it would shape up into in the future are- Muharram, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-uz-Zoha.
The lunar calender embarks upon its annual cycle with the month of Muharram. It is a time of mourning on part of the Muslims to grieve upon the martyrdom of Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, who along with his loved ones, had been forced all along to the desert of Karbala in Iraq, leading to a massacre of his family, including himself, and the repurcussions, of his absence, on the women of the Prophet's household, at the hands of Yezid, the then ruler of the city of Kufa, the place where the Prophet's family abided by. It was a fight of good against evil, since Husain didn't want his ancestral religion to crumble beneath the myth of obnoxious activities and malpractices that had crept into the Islamic society at that time. He therefore had wished to travel far from the misgivings of this ill Muslim ruler, and migrate to India, thinking that people would give him the honour he stood in due of. But, he was not allowed to go away and instead his caravan had been turned compellingly to the scanty winds of Karbala and met with a fatal consequence. Muslims all over the world pay homage to this tragedy during this time.
The graceful month Ramazan is marked with an end by the commemoration of Eid-ul Fitr. It is a day of celebration and comprises of call for namaz in the morning, in humble supplication of the Almighty, followed by meetings with relatives, sharing the news of well-being with one another, arriving at their homes to have laccha and semia, the so-called sweets, special to that day. But here too the day remains incomplete without a special mention to the ‘Fitra,’ which means giving alms to the poor, especially those who are very needy. It also abides by the doctrines of fidelity and piety. Without giving the poor, the fast observed in the entire month is rendered futile.
Eid-uz-Zoha (the Baqreid) and its sources go way back to a common mythology shared by Muslims and Christians alike. According to the myth, Abraham, a prophet of God was tested by Him to sacrifice his son in the name of the Almighty. He had done the job tying a piece of cloth on his eyes but the Creator answered to his deep-rooted faith by sending the angel Gabriel for his rescue, only for Abraham to open his eyes and find that his son (Isaac as in the Bible or Ismael as in the Quran) was standing beside him in flesh and blood. Muslims commemorate the day in remembrance of the sacrifice of Abraham, by practicing sacrifices of cattles in the name of the Almighty, and then distribute it amongst all. References also speak that the sacrifice of Abraham was averted only to be transformed later on into the supreme sacrifice of Husain, for the redemption of humanity.
- Raza Hussain