Before the advent of Islam in Arabia, there is mention of Eid festivals as well as some others among the Arabs. The Israelites had festivals as well, but as is evident from the Old Testament and other scriptures, these festivals related more to commemorating certain days of their history.
Eid al-Fitr was originated by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is observed on the first of the month of Shawwal at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims undergo a period of fasting.
According to certain traditions, these festivals were initiated in Madinah after the flight of Muhammad from Mecca. Anas reports:
- When the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he found people celebrating two specific days in which they used to entertain themselves with recreation and merriment. He asked them about the nature of these festivities at which they replied that these days were occasions of fun and recreation. At this, the Prophet remarked that the Almighty has fixed two days instead of these for you which are better than these: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha
For Muslims, both the festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are occasions of showing gratitude to God and remembering Him, and are an occasion of entertainment. ‘A’ishah narrates that when on an Eid day her father Abu Bakr stopped young girls from singing, Muhammad said: Abu Bakr! ; every nation has an ‘id and is our Eid.
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