Festivals Celebrated by Muslims in India!
The festivals and religious days of the Muslims are not fixed but fall about 11 days earlier each year. Id-ul-Fitr is a happy and festive occasion.
It comes at the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan (or Ramzan). During Ramadan, Muslims keep a dawn-to-dusk fast.
The Shias mourn the death of the prophet’s son-in-law on the 21st and 22nd of this month. The last ten days of the Ramadan are called Lailut al Kadar—the nights of power; it was during this period that the Quran is believed to have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad. On Id-ul-Fitr, every Muslim must give alms to the poor (fitr means alms), wear clean clothes and join his brethren in Id prayers.
Id-ul- Zuha (also called Id-ul-Azha or Bakr-Id) is another occasion of rejoicing. Hazrat Ibrahim was ordered by Allah to sacrifice the person dearest to him. Ibrahim decided to sacrifice his son Ismail at Mina, near Mecca. Just as he was about to apply the sword to his son’s throat, it was revealed to him that his faith and obedience to Allah were being tested and he could sacrifice a ram in place of his son.
Prayers and feasts mark the occasion. Ashura (Muharram) comes on the tenth day of the first Islamic month. Ashura (Muharram) has been a day of fasting for Sunni Muslims since the days of the early Muslim community. It marks two historical events: the day Nuh (Noah) left the Ark, and the day that Moses was saved from the Egyptians by Allah.
Shia Muslims in particular use the day to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet, in 680. Though it appears to be a festive occasion with colourful taziahs (a taziah being a model in wood and paper of the tomb of the matyred Hussain) it signifies mourning, and the masked persons in the procession are mourners.
Lailat al Qadr, the Night of Power, marks the night in which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah. Muslims regard this as the most important event in history, and the Quran says that this night is better than a thousand months (97:3), and that on this night the angels descend to earth.
This is a time that Muslims spend in study and prayer. Some will spend the whole night in prayer or in reciting the Quran. Lailat al Qadr is a good time to ask for forgiveness. Lailat al Qadr is considered to fall on the 27th of Ramadan, though the Prophet Muhammad did not mention when the Night of Power would be, just suggesting it was in the last 10 days of the month.
Lailat al Miraj commemorates the night journey and ascent of the Prophet Muhammad, and the revelation of Salat. It is celebrated by telling the story of how the Prophet Muhammad was visited by two archangels while he was asleep, who purified his heart and filled him with knowledge and faith. The Prophet travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single night on a strange winged creature called Buraq.
From Jerusalem he ascended into heaven, where he met the earlier prophets, and eventually God. During his time in heaven Muhammad was told of the duty of Muslims to recite Salat (ritual prayer) five times a day. Lailat ul Barah (Night of Forgiveness) is the 15th night of Shabaan and takes place two weeks before Ramadan. It is the time when Muslims seek forgiveness for their sins and believe that on this night one’s destiny is fixed for the year ahead.
On this night, Muslims pray and ask God for forgiveness either at the mosque or at home. Muslims may visit the graves of relatives and the giving to charity is also traditional. Although not a religious requirement, in some parts of the world there are firework displays that mark this night.
The wording ‘Lailat ul Barah’ is Arabic; in Persian and Urdu it is called Shabbe Baraat. Milad un Nabi marks the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim parents will tell stories of the Prophet’s life to their children. Many Muslims, however, do not believe in celebrating birthdays or death anniversaries because there is no historical evidence that the Prophet Muhammad ever did this.
Despite this, large numbers of Muslims do commemorate the birth anniversary of the Holy Prophet, which falls on 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal of the Islamic lunar calendar. Besides these occasions, there are several shrines where the urs or death nniversaries of saints are held, for example the urs at the tomb of Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti at Ajmer, which attract thousands of pilgrims, Muslim and Hindu.