Unknown to many Muslims, the term ‘Eid‘ has never been used by the Quran to mark
the end of Ramadan or to celebrate the conclusion of the fasting period.
Before we take a look at how the Quran uses the word ‘Eid‘, it is to be noted that there
is absolutely nothing wrong with coming together, participating in wholesome
festivities within social groups and upholding traditions which don’t impinge on
Islamic values. Eid is no different.
However, to understand these festivities such as ‘Eid‘ as being part of ‘ordained’
religion instituted by God, when there is absolutely no support for this in the Quran, is
quite a different matter.
Albeit an extremely pleasant festivity, it is to be appreciated that Eid remains a
‘traditional‘ celebration and not a ‘religious‘ one ordained by the Quran.
For example, the requirements to fast in the month of Ramadan, to pay ‘zakat‘ and to
establish ‘salah‘ are not learnt by ‘prophetic sunna‘ or tradition. These are clear
directives instituted by the Quran as are many other prescriptive laws and edicts.
There is absolutely no ‘religious‘ prescription to celebrate ‘Eid‘ in the Quran.
The reason for fasting in the month of Ramadan is also at times misunderstood. The Quran makes it absolutely clear that the reason for fasting is to magnify the greatness
of God in that He has guided believers by way of the Quran and to render Him thanks.
...and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt
the greatness of God for His having guided you and that you may give thanks”
USING ISOLATED QURANIC VERSES TO JUSTIFY THE RELIGIOUS
REQUIREMENT FOR THE EID FESTIVITY
“O mankind! There has come to you a direction / instruction / admonition (Arabic:
mawizatun) from your Lord and a healing for what is in your breasts, and for those
who believe, a guidance and a Mercy. Say “In the bounty of God and in His Mercy, in
that let them rejoice (Arabic: yafrahu)”: That is better than the (wealth) they hoard”
It is asserted by some Muslims, that the above verse by way of encouraging believers to
rejoice, commands them to participate in the festivity of Eid as an occasion to
celebrate the revelation of the Quran.
Quite apart from the above verse having a general context, where believers are asked
to rejoice (on no specific day) for the guidance given, there is absolutely no Quranic
justification to make use of this verse to support the religious requirement for a
dedicated day of Eid.
Furthermore, the word ‘Eid‘ is well known to the Quran and is not the term used here.
COMMEMORATING THE ‘LAST SUPPER‘ – A CHRISTIAN FESTIVAL
The term ‘Eid‘ has only been used once in the entire Quran and possibly in the context
of the Eucharist which is the Christian ceremony which commemorates the Biblical
Last Supper of Prophet Jesus.(pbuh) According to the New Testament, the festival is
celebrated by Prophet Jesus’s (pbuh) followers as per his instructions to remember
According to the Quran, Prophet Jesus (pbuh) in response to an initial request made
by his disciples (5:112), prayed to Almighty God that He send from heaven a table
spread (with food) as a festival (Eid). This festival would constitute a sign from God
from the ‘first to the last of them‘
5:112 Ith qala alhawariyyoonaya AAeesa ibna maryama hal yastateeAAurabbuka an yunazzila AAalayna ma-idatan mina assama-iqala ittaqoo Allaha in kuntum mu/mineen
5:112 [And remember] when the disciples said, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [Jesus] said,” Fear Allah , if you should be believers.”
Said Jesus, the son of Mary, “O Allah ,our Lord! Send us from heaven a table spread,
that there may be for us a festival (Arabic: Eid(an)) for the first and the last of us
and a sign from You; and provide for our sustenance, for You are the best Sustainer
(of our needs).””
Qala AAeesa ibnu maryama allahummarabbana anzil AAalayna ma-idatan mina assama-itakoonu lana AAeedan li-awwalina waakhirinawaayatan minka warzuqna waanta khayru arraziqeen
Despite fasting being ordained in the month of Ramadan for the believers to render
thanks to God for His guidance, many Muslims still stand aloof from studying the
Quran and extracting its message. This somewhat dismissive approach leaves them
oblivious to the Quran’s real contents, its exquisite arguments, guidance, directives
and at the mercy of religious leaders.
In effect, the very purpose of fasting seems to be neglected. It is quite one thing to
thank God for His guidance by virtue of revealing the Quran and quite another to put
that very Quran aside in a nonchalant manner.
More pertinent questions to be asked at the end of the fasting period would be:
Did one study the Quran, its verses, its content and ardently seek guidance from it? or
did many attempt to read and listen to it in a language many Muslims don’t even
comprehend? (Please see related article below).
Did one do ‘Tadabbur‘ with the Quran as instructed by it? ‘Tadabbur‘ 4:82, 23:68,
38:29, 47:24 i.e. research / ponder intently till the matter is clear.
Did one feel spiritually renewed and cleansed after reading, reflecting and pondering
over the Quranic verses?
Did one acquire a sense of patience, humility, abstention from worldly lusts and did
one increase in God consciousness?
In the end, did one really fulfil the purpose of ‘Ramadan‘, the reason why it received
the title ‘blessed‘ and why one fasted?
So why do Muslims really celebrate Eid?
Has the Muslim ‘Ummah‘ lost the true essence of what may have once been a noble
tradition, where celebrations were solely for thanking God for the Quran after reading,
studying its content and gaining God consciousness?
As true essence and spiritual meanings possibly become obfuscated in what are
known as ‘religious‘ traditions, quite ironically, it takes guidance from the Quran to
take one back to first principles.
Complete Verses :
5:110 [The Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, remember My favor upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with the Pure Spirit and you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and [remember] when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you designed from clay [what was] like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission; and you healed the blind and the leper with My permission; and when you brought forth the dead with My permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from [killing] you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, “This is not but obvious magic.”
5:111 And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, “Believe in Me and in My messenger Jesus.” They said, “We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to Allah ].”
5:112 [And remember] when the disciples said, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [Jesus] said,” Fear Allah , if you should be believers”
5:113 They said, “We wish to eat from it and let our hearts be reassured and know that you have been truthful to us and be among its witnesses.”
5:114 Said Jesus, the son of Mary, “O Allah ,our Lord! Send us from heaven a table spread, that there may be for us a festival (Arabic: Eid(an)) for the first and the last of us and a sign from You; and provide for our sustenance, for You are the best Sustainer (of our needs).””
5:115 Allah said, “Indeed, I will sent it down to you, but whoever disbelieves afterwards from among you – then indeed will I punish him with a punishment by which I have not punished anyone among the worlds.”
5:116 And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.
5:117 I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness.
5:118 If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
5:119 Allah will say, “This is the Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness.” For them are gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, Allah being pleased with them, and they with Him. That is the great attainment.
5:120 To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is within them. And He is over all things competent.