Understanding the True Spirit of Eid

Translation of Eid al-Fitr Sermon delivered by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) on 2nd May 2022 from Mubarak Mosque, Islamabad, UK

Translated by The Review of Religions Translation Team

After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) stated:

وَاعۡبُدُوا اللّٰہَ وَلَا تُشۡرِکُوۡا بِہٖ شَیۡئًا وَّبِالۡوَالِدَیۡنِ اِحۡسَانًا وَّبِذِی الۡقُرۡبٰی وَالۡیَتٰمٰی وَالۡمَسٰکِیۡنِ وَالۡجَارِ ذِی الۡقُرۡبٰی وَالۡجَارِ الۡجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالۡجَنۡۢبِ وَابۡنِ السَّبِیۡلِ ۙ وَمَا مَلَکَتۡ اَیۡمَانُکُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَا یُحِبُّ مَنۡ کَانَ مُخۡتَالًا فَخُوۡرَا 

The translation of this verse is, ‘And worship Allah and associate naught with Him, and show kindness to parents, and to kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and to the neighbour that is a kinsman and the neighbour that is a stranger, and the companion by your side, and the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. Surely, Allah loves not the proud and the boastful.’ (4:37)

Today, Allah Almighty has enabled us to celebrate Eid. However, true Eid for a believer is not about merely wearing good clothes and eating exquisite food, nor is it about spending time sitting and talking with friends. Having offered the Eid prayer does not mean that one can think they have fulfilled the requirements of Eid and that they now have full freedom to do as they please. On this day, some people do not offer the Zuhr prayer on time, nor the Asr prayer, or any of the other prayers. And even if they do remember to offer them, they do so hastily and combine them. Some people do not even offer the Eid prayer, but after the Eid prayer has taken place, they indulge themselves in other festivities on this day, as though this is the true purpose of Eid. I do not say this just for the sake of it; I have even witnessed some people who do not offer the Eid prayer and say that they were tired and remained asleep. One should remember that Eid is a day for greater worship. On normal days, there are five obligatory prayers, but on the Eid day there are six obligatory prayers. In fact, despite being exempt from praying on certain days, women have been commanded to still go to the Eid hall on the day of Eid. Hence, the day of Eid holds great importance. 

The Ahmadis in Pakistan must pray; firstly, due to certain circumstances wehereby women were restricted from going to the Eid hall, and secondly, due to further restrictions as a result of Covid. In fact, government restrictions even had to be placed on men in certain places. Therefore, pray that the people in Pakistan in particular, and the whole world are relieved of such restrictions. Here, the restrictions to attend the Eid prayer have come to an end now after two years, as [previously] everyone had to offer the Eid prayer in their own areas, but now everyone is permitted to attend. In any case, there are special instructions to offer the Eid prayer in normal circumstances, and this must not be forgotten. I was mentioning that the day of Eid is not a day for merely gathering together similar to a festival, rather, it is important to do even greater justice to the responsibilities which Allah the Almighty has placed on us than in regular days. One must fulfil the rights of their worship and fulfil the rights of their fellow humankind, which is the responsibility of every single believer. 

On this day, we ought to make a vow that we will continuously strive to fulfil the rights of Allah the Almighty along with the rights of His creation. It is only then that we will truly be commemorating Eid. This is the kind of Eid we should strive to attain. Allah the Almighty has drawn our attention towards these rights at numerous instances in the Holy Qur’an. If we make a pledge on this day of Eid to focus on fulfilling these rights – which I have generally been mentioning in the previous Friday sermons – and make this an integral part of our lives, then we will attain the objective of Ramadan and also become among those who fulfil the true purpose of celebrating Eid. In the verse [of the Holy Qur’an] which I recited, Allah the Almighty has drawn our attention towards some of these rights and that those who fail to fulfil these rights are proud and boastful and Allah the Almighty is not pleased with such people. Those who Allah the Almighty is not pleased with will neither succeed in their faith, nor in this world. On one occasion, the Holy Prophet (sa) also gave a strict warning regarding this. He stated, ‘Allah Almighty will not allow anyone who has even the slightest bit of arrogance to enter paradise.’ Upon this, someone submitted, ‘A person desires to wear good clothes and nice shoes and look beautiful, then what category would such a person fall under?’ The Holy Prophet (sa) stated, ‘This is not arrogance; Allah the Almighty is Beautiful and loves beauty.’ The Holy Prophet (sa) further stated, ‘Arrogance is when a person denies the truth; considers others to be lowly and looks upon them with contempt and deals with them with discourtesy.’ 

Thus, to wear nice clothes on the day of Eid, to get ready and wear perfume, etc. are all things which please Allah the Almighty, however it displeases Allah the Almighty when one displays pride and arrogance due to these things. In this verse, after drawing attention to this, Allah the Almighty states in the end that He does not like those who are proud and boastful. [This verse] mentions the rights we owe to Allah the Almighty and the rights we owe to His creation. It is Allah the Almighty’s right that we worship Him. And though it is the right of Allah the Almighty that we worship Him and not associate any partners with Him, we are the ones who benefit from this. People ask how [our worship] benefits Allah the Almighty. Allah the Almighty does not benefit from this; Allah the Almighty states that the purpose of man’s creation is to worship Him, however it is not to benefit Allah the Almighty. In fact, Allah the Almighty has drawn our attention towards worship for our own betterment, to grant us His blessings and for us to reform ourselves. He has commanded us to offer Salat in order to stop us from committing ills. In one place, Allah the Almighty states,

اِنَّ الصَّلٰوۃَ تَنۡھٰی عَنِ الۡفَحۡشَآءِ وَالۡمُنۡکَرِ ؕ وَلَذِکۡرُ اللّٰہِ اَکۡبَرُ

Surely, Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil, and remembrance of Allah indeed is the greatest virtue.’ (29:46)

Thus, we are the ones who benefit from offering Salat, through worship and by the remembrance of Allah the Almighty, and it is Allah the Almighty Who rewards us in return. There is a narration in which it is mentioned that a person once submitted to the Holy Prophet (sa), ‘O Messenger (sa) of Allah! Inform me of a deed which shall enable me to enter paradise and cause a distance between me and the hellfire.’ Upon this the Holy Prophet (sa) stated, ‘Worship Allah the Almighty and do not associate any partners with Him. Offer the Salat, give Zakat and treat your close relations with kindness. (in other words, to show love and kindness to one’s relatives.)’ 

You see, this is how Allah the Almighty bestows His grace by granting us good in this world and giving glad-tidings of paradise in the next life. 

Then, in another narration it is mentioned that the Holy Prophet (sa) stated, ‘One who worships on the nights of the two Eids purely for the sake of Allah, his heart shall be granted eternal life.’

How great a glad-tiding this is, that by worshipping for the sake of Allah the Almighty one continues to receive its rewards. Thus, Eid does not merely entail celebration, in fact, it means to enliven its nights with worship and in return, one is granted eternal spiritual life. There are those who think that they will sleep comfortably now that Ramadan is over; such people used to wake up for Sehri and as a result would have the chance of offering two nawafil [voluntary prayers] as well, but now many of them show slackness in waking up for the Fajr prayer on the Eid day. People should not use Covid as an excuse; and should go to the mosque to offer their Fajr prayer. If there was less attendance [in mosques] on the day of Eid, then you should try and increase the attendance tomorrow. Where the Eid is going to take place tomorrow, they should ensure to bear this in mind and attend [the mosque] on Eid day, or at the very least wake up on time and offer the Fajr prayer along with their children at home. One should make every effort to offer their prayers in congregation. As I mentioned in the last Friday Sermon, one should offer their prayers in the most excellent manner. One should not think that the ending of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid gives them permission to be excused from worship or to offer less worship or not take proper care of their prayers. It is prayers alone that guarantee us becoming the recipients of Allah the Almighty’s grace in this world and the next. 

After drawing our attention in this verse towards fulfilling the rights of Allah the Almighty, our attention is then drawn towards fulfilling the rights of His creation. As I briefly mentioned earlier that the Holy Prophet (sa) has instructed to treat one’s close relations with kindness. In this verse, Allah the Almighty has mentioned these different rights in detail. Allah the Almighty states that one should show kindness to their parents. After the divine providence granted by Allah the Almighty, it is one’s parents who show the greatest kindness by raising and them and tending to their upbringing. This is a favour that we can never repay. Showing kindness to parents means that one should always speak to them softly and lovingly. One should show them respect and honour them. With regards to parents, Allah the Almighty states in another place: 

فَلَا تَقُلۡ لَّھُمَاۤ اُفٍّ

Never say unto them any word expressive of disgust.’ (17:24) 

A person expresses disgust when they dislike something and in this verse it states that one should not even say a word expressive of disgust if they dislike something. In another place it is stated that one should serve them in every way possible and show obedience to them, unless they say something that goes against faith or God Almighty. In such an instance one has to give precedence to their faith, but even then they should not treat them in a harsh manner. One should simply say that they will not be able to obey them in that matter as it is a matter related to Allah the Almighty and faith. 

Thus, this is the commandment given to a believer as to how they should treat their parents. Then, there is the commandment of treating one’s relatives with kindness. The Holy Prophet (sa) stated, ‘one who wishes to be bestowed abundance in his wealth or wishes to be granted a long life and wants to be spoken highly of by the people, then he ought to adopt the quality of showing kindness to his close relations.’ One should take care of their own direct relatives as well as their spouse’s relatives. Those who are affluent and have migrated to other countries and Allah the Almighty has improved their circumstances should try and include those relatives in their Eid celebrations whose circumstances are not so good. However, there is no condition which stipulates that one should only show kindness if those relatives also show kindness in return. In fact, even if they do not show the right attitude, one should show them kindness. Once, a person asked the Holy Prophet (sa) what he should do if his relations continued to break ties with him and did not respond to him or treat him properly, despite him treating them well. 

The Holy Prophet (sa) stated, ‘if this is true, then you should maintain your conduct and treat them with kindness. This will be an act of benevolence on your part for them and as long as you deal with them kindly, Allah the Almighty will continue to help you.’ Therefore, it is our responsibility to do good deeds, and the true happiness of Eid will be acgueved when one continues to perform this good deed without seeking any reward or remuneration in return. Hence, for this reason, it has been commanded by Allah the Almighty and His Messenger (sa), and Allah the Almighty Himself grants reward for this.

I would like to clarify here that some husbands stop their wives from meeting their relatives, to the extent that they even stop their wives from meeting their own parents, i.e. they stop their wives from meeting her own relatives and parents. This is sheer ignorance. Holding on to grudges over trivial matters because her brother said such and such thing on one occasion or her sister said such and such thing, or that her parents behaved in a certain way with his parents, or that her uncles spoke to him in a certain way; these are all ignorant deeds. It does not behove a believer to harbour such thoughts. These are usually the sorts of matters that arise. 

Thus, if one wishes to please Allah the Almighty and wishes to attain Allah’s help, then one must eschew such futile and vain acts. If a person greets another by humbling themselves and is the first to extend a hand of reconciliation for the sake of attaining the pleasure of Allah the Almighty , then such a person becomes the recipient of Allah’s favours. Therefore, every Ahmadi ought to pay special attention to this.

Similarly, with regards to the relationship between a husband and wife, strive to remove all grievances over trivial and insignificant matters at home. If men are commanded to deal gently and in a loving manner with their wives, the wives are also commanded to be content [with what they have] and ensure they take care of their home.

Whilst directing our attention towards fulfilling the rights of humankind, Allah the Almighty states to look after orphans and the poor. This is a very important matter which every Ahmadi ought to bear in mind. If one does not know of an orphan personally, then there is a fund in the Jama’at for orphans towards which one should try and contribute as much as possible. Include orphans in the Eid celebrations; one ought to contribute towards this fund. With regards to the importance of looking after orphans, the Holy Prophet (sa) stated, ‘On the Day of Judgement, the one who looked after an orphan and I will be together, just like two fingers of the same hand’ and he indicated this with his fingers as an explanation. Thus, these are lasting virtues and one ought to partake in them. Likewise, there are many other funds in the Jama’at, such as the marriage fund, funds for the sick and funds for students. Whosoever has the means ought to spend in these causes. 

Then, whilst directing our attention towards looking after the poor, Allah the Almighty states that a believer feeds orphans and the poor for the sake of attaining His pleasure. The Holy Prophet (sa) also stated, ‘If you wish to soften your heart, then feed the poor and place your hand on the head of an orphan.’ Thus, in order to be granted the opportunity to perform this virtue and in order to attain the pleasure of Allah the Almighty, one ought to make this service to humanity incumbent upon themselves. They ought to be especially mindful of this on the occasion of Eid. But these funds are not such that one should only contribute towards them on Eid alone, rather whosoever has the means should regularly contribute towards them.

There is also the commandment of showing kindness towards neighbours. If a person understands the reality of [the rights owed to] neighbours and strives as a result to discharge their obligation towards them, then the conflict and strife in the world would come to an end. For a believer, true Eid can only come about when the world’s troubles are resolved. 

Who is defined as a neighbour? On one occasion, the Promised Messiah (as) stated that a neighbour is considered to be anyone living within 100 Kos – i.e. people living up to 100 miles around you are your neighbours.

According to this definition, no one is left out of the sphere of being a neighbour. The Holy Prophet (sa) stated, ‘If your neighbours praise you then you are a good neighbour.’ Hence, this is the standard of being considered a good neighbour, through which love and harmony can be established in society, There is no distinction in this as to whether they adhere to the same religion or not. In fact, I have seen some people here who treat their neighbours of other religions very well, yet do not have good relations with Ahmadis. Thus, we must rid ourselves of such ill feelings on this occasion of Eid.

Then there is the commandment of treating those sitting beside you and your colleagues with kindness. If everyone acts upon this then new avenues for Tabligh [preaching] will open, and it is when these new avenues for Tabligh are opened, that true Eid will be acheived. Nowadays here in the West; in Western countries, from time to time there is a wave of opposition against Islam. It is through displaying our morals that we will be able to show people the true teachings of Islam.

Then there is the commandment of treating one’s subordinates and the weak with kindness; whether they are related to you or not. Islam does not state that one should only extend kind treatment to their relatives, or people of the same faith or same nation, rather, it teaches human rights. It mentions both the rights of relatives and the rights of those who are not related. It mentions the rights of neighbours – those who are close and those who are far, in fact, it even includes those people who accompany you on any journey and establishes their rights.

Then, [Islam] mentions about the rights of the deprived and the weak. It speaks of the rights of your subordinates as well. What right has Islam not covered? These rights have also been mentioned in other verses. In order to establish these rights, the Holy Qur’an has presented a very beautiful teaching, which is the teaching of justice and fairness, and it has explained it in a manner which is unparalleled. It has mentioned this on many occasions; for example, at one instance it has stated that in order to uphold justice, one should give true testimony, even if it be against themselves, their parents or their relatives, as is stated:

یٰۤاَیُّھَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کُوۡنُوۡا قَوّٰمِیۡنَ بِالۡقِسۡطِ شُھَدَآءَ لِلّٰہِ وَلَوۡ عَلٰۤی اَنۡفُسِکُمۡ اَوِ الۡوَالِدَیۡنِ وَالۡاَقۡرَبِیۡنَ

O ye who believe! be strict in observing justice, and be witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against parents and kindred.’ (4:136)

These are the things which maintain peace in society and will establish a beautiful society. These are the things which we act upon in order to attain the pleasure of Allah and can transform the earth into paradise. Eid becomes true Eid when we attain paradise on this earth; when we are able to make this earth like paradise by fulfilling the rights of Allah and His creation. True virtue as taught by Islam means to look after the rights of others and not to cause disruption in the earth just to attain one’s own rights. The rank of a believer requires that they strive in this responsibility and analyse as to whether there is anyone whose rights they are not fulfilling. 

Our duty is not merely to repay a loan owed to someone, rather our duty is to utilise our full potential, abilities and morals in our dealings with others, treating them kindly, and empathising with the hardships they face. These are all things that can render our Eid as being a true Eid; an Eid which does not only last for a day but an Eid which attains the pleasure of Allah and lasts forever.

Then, on the occasion of Eid, we must generally show concern and pray for the world, rather than simply being content with our own happiness. These days, the world is heading towards destruction which is very concerning for us, as it should be, because it is also our duty to save mankind. All of these things are happening [in the world] because the requirements of justice are not being met and due regard is not given to the rights of others. If people stood by their promises and strove to establish justice at all levels and fulfil the rights of others; if justice was established in its true form and the rights of others were duly fulfilled then we would not witness the destruction of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen or Afghanistan. We would not have seen the state which has come about in these places, nor would we witness all that which has transpired in Ukraine.

Thus, as I have stated, truly understanding these duties and informing the world about the true teachings of Islam, while acting upon them ourselves will create new avenues for Tabligh and will also become a means for saving the world. We must pay special attention to this. The world is mindlessly bent upon its own destruction. They perceive the welding of worldly power and proving their superiority to be the guarantor for saving their lives. Yet, they do not realise that rather than saving them, these things will certainly lead to their destruction. It seems like wishful thinking to consider that nuclear weapons will not be used or that the possibility of this happening is slim. Countries are threatening each other with nuclear weapons, but in any case Allah the Almighty knows best whether these will be used. However, it certainly seems that these people are rapidly advancing towards destruction and ruin and the end result will be devastation and ruin.

In these circumstances, there is only one thing that can save the world from destruction, which is for the world to recognise its Creator and draw closer to Him. The world has no understanding or knowledge of this; it is the duty of Ahmadis to guide people towards this path. They should tell them that fulfilling the rights owed to Allah and the rights owed to His creation can ensure their survival, not their [worldly] powers. We will have to inform the masses of the destruction which their leaders are taking them towards. Hence, according to the circumstances, we should create new avenues for Tabligh. We will have to contact people in our circles and guide them. Rather than wasting time on social media by having pointless conversations, we should conduct meaningful dialogue. Rather than wasting time on such things, we should guide people towards God Almighty. We must inform them of the reality that if they move closer to God Almighty, they will be saved. If we carry out this task of informing the world, then not only will we be striving for the establishment of peace in our homes, cities and countries, but we will also be saving the world from destruction and become bearers of happiness. The only way to save the world from destruction is to help it recognise God Almighty and fulfil the rights owed to Him. In order to achieve this, we will have to ensure our own conditions are of the highest standards. This is true Eid, and in order to achieve it, Allah the Almighty sent the True Servant of the Holy Prophet (sa) to reform this era and he constantly drew the world’s attention towards this.

Now I wish to present a brief reference from Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) which someone sent to the Editor of Al-Fazl. This reference is of an Eid Sermon delivered by Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) which has been published, and coincidentally this sermon of Eid al-Fitr was also on May 2, 1957. Due to an illness, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) delivered a brief sermon, however I will only present a summary of it. It pertains to Tabligh and the longing we should have within ourselves for Tabligh, how we should inform the world and how we can truly do justice to being Ahmadi Muslims. He said that our Eid in essence can only be considered Eid if it was celebrated [in the same manner] as the Holy Prophet (sa). If we celebrate Eid in a manner that was not celebrated by the Holy Prophet (sa) then this cannot be considered Eid. He said that despite the fact that it has been more than 1300 years since the demise of the Holy Prophet (sa), if a Muslim does not include the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) [in their Eid] and suffices upon celebrating a superficial Eid, then an Eid celebration of this kind is of no use. The Eid celebrated by Holy Prophet (sa) was not marked by eating vermicelli or Sheer Khurma [vermicelli pudding], rather his Eid was marked by spreading the Holy Qur’an and Islam. If the Qur’an and Islam are propagated then the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) will be included in our Eid. The Holy Prophet (sa) would be pleased to see that the mission with which he was sent has been kept established by his Ummah. 

Thus, one must strive to spread Islam and the Qur’an so that the Holy Prophet (sa) may be included in our Eid. Though we may already do Tabligh, but in order to do justice to it we must strive even more than before. We cannot say that our progenies possess the same zeal and spirit for doing justice to Tabligh which existed in those before us, nor do we possess the same spirit held by those who were before us. Until we establish this zeal and spirit for Tabligh in our progenies and within ourselves we will be unable to celebrate true Eid, which is the Eid of the Holy Prophet (sa). Hence, we must remain mindful of the message that we must pass on this spirit into the future generations while paying special attention to bringing about virtuous changes within ourselves. We must become those who fulfil the rights owed to Allah the Almighty and His worship and we must inform our future generations to do the same. They must be those who fulfil the rights of others and those who strive their utmost to spread the teachings of the Qur’an and Islam and that this spirit passes forward from generation to generation and they must also carry on this spirit. We should not rest until we raise the banner of Islam and the Holy Prophet (sa) aloft in the world. May Allah the Almighty enable us to witness such an Eid and in order to attain this, we must utilise all of our faculties.

Now there will be silent prayer, in which you should pray for the release of those who are imprisoned [in the way of Allah], the families of martyrs; may Allah the Almighty be their Protector and Helper. Pray for those who present financial sacrifices for the Jama’at, that Allah may bestow innumerable blessing in their wealth and lives. Pray for the life-devotees, that Allah the Almighty may enable them to uphold the spirit of devotion while working with zeal and passion and being driven by a single purpose; [pray] for the missionaries serving in the field of duty, striving to raise the banner of the Holy Prophet (sa) aloft in the world and to bring the world under the banner of God’s Unity. May Allah the Almighty bestow His countless blessings in our humble efforts and may we soon witness the victory of Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) in the world.”