Leeds Muslims gear up to celebrate Eid al-Fitr and the end of Ramadan

Muslims families in Leeds and beyond will come together today to celebrate Eid al-Fitr and the end of Ramadan.

By Richard Beecham
Monday, 2nd May 2022, 4:45 am

The date holds similar significance to Easter or Christmas in the Christian calendar and is often coupled with large family gatherings and a feast.

Coun Salma Arif last year became Leeds’ first female Muslim health chief. To her, Eid has always been a special celebration enjoyed by children in particular.

“Eid is quite special – there is a lot of happiness around,” she said. “When I was a kid I used to get given a lot of money by grandparents and relatives.

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Eid is set to take place on Monday and Tuesday this week.

“As the years have gone on, it is still really special, but as a child there is more to it; you get to dress up and have food and see a lot of your family.

“It’s often considered rude to turn down food, so once you have done the rounds in your family, you are often full with six or seven lots of food!

“There is always a sense that Ramadan is over, and there is always a jolly mood.”

Eid means “feast” or “festival” and there are two in the Muslim calendar each year, with Eid al-Fitr falling this month in 2022. It is a three-day long festival to mark the end of Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan recalls the revealing of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad and is a time when Muslims are expected to fast during daylight hours.

It is the link to Ramadan that gives Eid al-Fitr - meaning “the feast of breaking the fast” - its name.

In countries with large Muslim populations, Eid al-Fitr is a national holiday. Here in Britain, Muslims will often book time off work instead.

Haris Hussain, president of the Islamic Society at the University of Leeds, believes the younger generation of Muslims often see Eid as much more of an opportunity for celebration than their older relatives.

Haris, who is training to be a doctor, said: “This is the first Eid of the year. It’s a big celebration and we get together as a community.

“We pray at the mosque in the morning, then just go about our day. It’s one of the two times in a year where you are basically told to do something and enjoy your day.

"Nowadays it is a bit more about going out, going for desserts and that kind of thing.

"I feel like for the older generations it was more about going to the mosque and then coming back home, and then go about the rest of the day - some of them would go back to work.

"But I feel like as a younger generation, we are more active in celebrating it, not just going to the mosque, but we also go for food and encourage our family to do different things.

"It's good that the older generation go to mosque, but the younger ones encourage people to stay off work and we want to be more active in celebrating it."

Eid al-Fitr this year begins on the evening of Monday May 2 and ends on the evening of Tuesday May 3.