Muslim Feasts

Published Date: 
August 21, 2006

Muslims have many feast days. However, all Muslims celebrate three major festivals: The Feast of the Breaking of the Fast, the Great Feast, and the Prophet's Birthday. The Feast of the Breaking of the Fast is also called the Feast of Alms and the Minor Feast. It occurs at the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan on the first of the Muslim month of Shawwal. It is mostly a family affair akin to Christmas celebrations in the Christian world with homes decorated and with gifts and cards sent to friends and neighbors. Special Qur'anic recitations are often made at the graves of deceased relatives and afterwards there is feasting with much entertainment.

The second feast, variously called the Great Feast, the Feast of the Pilgrimage, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, occurs two months and nine days after the Minor Feast. It takes place on the day after the Meccan pilgrims visit the Plain of Arafat. Many Muslims around the world sacrifice animals on this day. A well-know quotation from Muslim religious literature quotes Muhammad as saying, "Man hath not done anything, on the day of sacrifice, more pleasing to God than spilling blood: I mean sacrifice." The feast often begins with prayers at the local mosque and includes visits to the cemetery.

The third feast, the Prophet's Birthday, is celebrated on the twelfth day of the month Rabi al-Awwal. On that day in 570AD Muhammad was born and on that same day 63 years later he died. On the day of this feast, believers chant praises extolling the virtues of the Prophet Muhammad. Processions take place through the streets with singing and dancing. The participants buy new clothes and wear them and they eat special sweets (similar to Easter practices). Many entertainments are given. One important note: the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar of 354 or 355 days with no adjustments for the solar year. Therefore, these feasts will continually rotate according to the time of the year in comparison the the solar calendar used in the modern world. Much of this information was taken from "The Unseen Face of Islam" by Bill Musk (p.77-80).

David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 13:10

Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.