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Eid-Ul-Fitr is the holiday that follows the blessed month of Ramadan and falls on the 1st day of Shawwal, the 10th month in the Hijra (Islamic) calendar. As with all months in the Hijra calendar, it begins with the sighting of the new moon. It commemorates both a joyous holiday and some sadness due to the end of the blessed month of Ramadan.
Fasting is forbidden on this day, as it marks the end of the month long fast of Ramadan. One is encouraged to rise early and partake of some dates or a light, sweet snack. One should bathe, as always, but with the remembrance that this is a special day. Muslims are encouraged to dress in their best clothes, new if possible. There is a special Eid prayer that is performed in congregation. The prayer consists of two rak'at, followed by a khutba, or sermon. The prayer is not obligatory, but Muslims are encouraged to take time off and attend the prayer. This gives an opportunity to join with other Muslims in the celebration. Prior to the start of the prayer, the congregation recites the following glorification:
ALLAHU AKBARULLAHU AKBARULLAHU AKBAR, LA ILLAHA ILLA; ALLAH, ALLAHU AKBARULLAHU AKBAR, WA LILLAH HILHAMD.
This means ALLAH is Greatest, ALLAH is Greatest, ALLAH is Greatest, there is no GOD but ALLAH, ALLAH is Greatest, ALLAH is Greatest, and to HIM goes all gratitude and thanks. One is encouraged to begin reciting this after Fajr prayer and until the start of the Eid prayer.
Prior to the start of the prayer, every Muslim must pay Zakatul Fitr, an alms for the month of Ramadan. This is different from the normal zakat, which is given to purify one's wealth. This zakat is normally given to local Muslim needy prior to the start of the Eid prayer. It can be given anytime during the month of Ramadan and is often given early, so the recipient can utilize it for Eid purchases.
Prophet Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, used to pray outdoors in a different location than where he prayed his daily prayers. Consequently it is preferred to pray outdoors, if possible. (The weather in the Arabian peninsula was moderate enough to permit this. In other climates, this may not be possible, particularly during certain times of the year.)
Children are normally given gifts. Also, women (particularly mothers, wives, sisters and daughters) are normally given special gifts by their loved ones.
Eid-Ul-Fitr is one of two holidays in Islam, the other being Eid-Ul-Adha, which comes on the 10th day of Thul Hijjah, the 12th month. That occurs during the Hajj, or Pilgrimage season, when Muslims make the journey to Makkah and the Ka'ba.