Eid Al-Fitr 2014: History, Observance and Facts About the Islamic Festival Celebrated after End of Ramadan
A crescent moon is seen over a mosque after sunset in Karachi.Reuters

Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated as the day of breaking fast as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan ends.

Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan by fasting from dawn to dusk. Eid is a reward for Muslims who, apart from fasting, have restrained themselves from material and spiritual vices including, lying, cheating, violence and theft.

History of Eid Al-Fitr

The history of the most significant Muslim celebration dates back to 610 AD when Prophet Mohammed, while meditating, had visions of angel Jibril, the messenger of Allah. Over the years Prophet Mohammed, under the guidance of Jibril, wrote the holy verses of wisdom.

The verses later became the code of conduct for Islam followers and were documented as the holy book of Quran.

It is believed that the wisdom from the holy Quran was revealed to Mohammad during the month of Ramadan and he asked all Muslims to observe the month to express their gratitude to Allah.

How Eid is Celebrated

After spending a month on a stringent lifestyle and self-cleansing during Ramadan, Muslims start sighting the crescent moon after sunset on the last day of the holy month.

On the day, Muslim families and friends greet each other with "Eid Mubarak" or "have a Blessed Eid".

The moon sighting also means the beginning of the month of Shawwal, the 10th month of the lunar Islamic calendar.

While the fasting month is a symbol of sacrifice and purification, the fast-breaking ceremony of Eid aims at promoting love and brotherhood, and the beginning of normal everyday life.

The day begins with an early hour bath, after which Muslims put on their best clothes and eat dates before going to the special Eid prayer ceremonies in their nearby mosque.

Eid Al-Fitr, which means 'breaking the fast', is incomplete without the special delicacies meant for the special occasion. And Muslim families serve the best of Eid meals during their celebratory get-together on the day.

Children enjoy the day as they get special Eid gifts, including new clothes, sweets and perks from elders.

Interesting Facts:

1. It is customary to eat breakfast before the special prayer of Eid, as Prophet Muhammad used to eat something sweet before offering his prayers.

2. Keeping up with the Islamic tradition, Muslims wake up extra early on Eid morning to cleanse their body – a ritual called 'ghusl'. They wear the best clothing before going for the prayer.

3. As the crescent moon of Eid appears on different dates, at times after sunset, many Muslim communities celebrate Eid on the day it appears over the sky above Mecca.

4. The Eid prayer is different from the regular prayer known as Adhaan. The special prayer can be done anytime between the Ishraq (dawn) and Zawal (midday) prayers.

5. The Eid prayer can be done in an open space and Muslims hug each other after the prayer while saying "Eid Mubarak".

6. Muslims donate 2.55% of their annual income as charity for poor and needy on Eid.