Eid Al-Fitr: A Grateful Parting of Such Sweet Sorrow

Eid (1st of Shawwal/end of Ramadan) is the occasion for reminding us of the joy contained in celebrating, at every moment, the blessings of God that is Eid. It is a joy that is related to the two joys of the iftar of Ramadan: that of breaking the fast, and that of meeting our Lord (subhanahu wa ta'ala).

There is perhaps a subtlety in the connection of these two joys which often goes unnoticed by our usual practice of the fast and its breaking. If we remember that both the fast and its breaking are by the command and even permission (idhn) of God, it may bring us to pay more attention to the very moment of iftar, or more precisely, that moment between fasting and breaking the fast. It is a special moment of being present and discovering a presence which mysteriously connects the joy of breaking the fast with the joy of our meeting God.

It is in that moment in between the fast and its breaking as iftar, that the opportunity of an existential pause or gap in our practice occurs. It is a moment in which we return and relax into our ordinary bodily conditions of eating and drinking, apparently outside of religious and spiritual practice. But this break can be discovered to be anything but a return to the ordinary. Although returning to what appears to be the ordinary, one may taste a renewed sense of gratitude and wonder of the fullness or filling of the present in each and every moment. If we are paying attention during the iftar, it is somehow between the here and the now of iftar, that we go beyond the present and “meet God” as Presence. To discover Presence through this Prophetic means of iftar, then is to discover the “joy of meeting our Lord”.

This subtle meeting of our Lord is among other things, precisely to become aware of that space, or gap, between the end of one practice (fasting), and a return to another practice (eating and drinking), for God. If we stay with this insight, this attentiveness, or this witnessing, there is a subtle yet beautiful discovery of our selves to be made. It is to remain interested in the vigilant yet relaxed awareness (muraqaba) of the Here and Now of God’s Presence, which underlies the directness of our immediate experience of anything, everything, as well as no-thing. It is to see clearly, over and again, that God is always Present in every apparent moment as Presence (hudhur).

Such an insight is the true goal or end of all practice because it has always been the origin or beginning of our underlying and ever present nature (fitra). To discover this at any moment of our lives, and especially through the Prophetic means of the fast and the moment between it and its breaking (iftar), is the greatest Eid of the Fitra anyone could ever have. Far from being an end, this discovery should be the beginning of a renewed sense of wonder in the unfolding of our way in the religious and spiritual practice of our life.

Along with uncovering our Fitra through discovering Presence, Eid Al-Fitr following Ramadan has a special connection to the Iftar of the Fast. All three Arabic terms come from the same root. To these two joys, a third is added but with an element of sorrow of a parting with what came before. This third joy is the sorrowful joy and joyous sorrow of breaking or parting with the fasting month of Ramadan through the Eid (Al-Fitr). All these joys are actually the one and only joy that is found to be the very peace of our inherent, God-given Nature (fitra). Yet our parting with Ramadan is filled with both sorrow and joy. It is a sorrow for the leaving of the special blessings afforded and given by God in Ramadan. And it is a joy of celebrating with gratitude the blessings of a new life of discovered Presence, purpose, and renewed vows of gratitude with God and His creation, due to all the spiritual tastings of Ramadan.

It is for this reason, that these newly found blessings must be celebrated with all of our loved ones — our families, neighbors and communities. This renewal of the joy of life must begin with celebrating a love and forgiveness towards others which mirrors the love and forgiveness we have experienced in Ramadan with our Lord (subhanahu wa ta'ala).

May God out of His sheer Generosity Accept our prayers.

Eid Mubarak!!


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