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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Ask Ali: Explaining how Muslims celebrate Eid Al Fitr

We definitely try to stick to our traditional way of celebrating Eid.

Dear Ali: Do Emiratis celebrate Eid in the most traditional sense? PO, Ajman

Dear PO: We definitely try to stick to our traditional way of celebrating Eid. The first day of Eid starts from the early morning prayer in the mosque. It’s called Salat Al Eid prayer. On this day, we usually try to spend time with our families, inviting all of our relatives for an Eid gathering, where all types of our favourite dishes are served. Usually, men will plan their visits to the leaders and sheikhs of the emirate they come from.

The name of the celebration, Eid Al Fitr, is derived from the word iftar, and means breaking the fast. It’s very important to share food among people during this time, to ensure there won’t be anyone left hungry. Children and even some adults dress in new clothes, and adults prepare a small pile of cash as a gift for the children. We call it Eidiya – the Eid money. For me, I give Dh5 only, so no children really like me at this time of the year.

As for any changes to the way we have celebrated over the years, the development of technology has certainly played a role. Today, we can send messages via email or SMS with our Eid greetings to a thousand people with one click. I remember a bank’s funny commercial showing how advanced children approached their parents with a personal credit-card machine terminal to receive their Eidiya. But I believe technology isn’t that bad if used moderately, especially when it helps people to gather, because it’s always beautiful to see our houses full of people during Eid.

Dear Ali: Is it OK for Muslims to receive Eid greetings from non-Muslims? I also heard there are special fairs during the festival because people have to wear new clothes for Eid. Can people wear old clothes for Eid or are new clothes a must? HS, Dubai

Dear HS: Eid greetings by any method – phone, email or text message – are accepted from Muslims and non-Muslim alike. This doesn’t mean that you have to initiate Eid greetings and congratulations the same way we do, by buying gifts or paying visits to our relatives and friends.

It's enough for you to start a conversation with the greeting “Eid Mubarak”. Sending such messages to your Muslim friends or publishing them on social media is considered a good tone, especially for those who live among Muslims.

In regards to new clothes, there's no specific rule, although it's a practice to dress in something new for the feast occasion. Whatever a person wears for Eid, whether it's a new kandura or new jeans and T-shirt, it doesn’t matter. Women might get a new party dress – something they can wear for Eid gatherings among family members or female friends.

It's absolutely fine if you don't have anything new to wear. Also, some families don't have the financial resources to buy a new piece for each family member, so they buy only for the youngest – that always brings a lot of happiness to the children.

Basically, wearing new clothes for Eid is just a well-practised tradition that brings a great festive atmosphere for everyone.

Eid Mubarak to you and everyone.

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question.

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