People always think of Eid as the basis of unity. To some extent that may be true, but the question comes: unity for what? The unity in doing Eid prayers together, and that's it? No, my brothers and sisters, this is not the basis of unity. So what should be the basis of unity? The answer lies in the fasting of Ramadan and in Eid al-Fitr itself; in the issue of Fitra, a clear message of uniting in the matter of concern for the less fortunate brothers and sisters of our community, locally as well as globally. Unity lies not in eating baklava and cake with coffee together after Salatul Eid, where some people show up only once in a year. Real unity is in being concerned for the well-being of the Muslims.
The Daily Du'a of Ramadan
Let us look at the Du'a we recited during Ramadan every night, a Du'a which has come from our own Prophet Muhammad al-Mustafa (peace be upon him):
O Allah, bless the departed souls with joy and happiness.
Don't forget those who have passed away, especially those related to you – pray for their forgiveness, do good deeds on their behalf and carry out their unfulfilled obligations.
O Allah, make every poor free from need.
Now that you have been blessed by Allah, have you looked for an opportunity for being used by Allah as an intermediary in providing for others? In Du'a Sha'baniyya, Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him) teaches us to pray to Allah: "Since You have increased Your grace upon me, bless me to be charitable towards those whose sustenance You have straitened." This is, in essence, a prayer to use us as intermediaries in conveying Allah's grace to the less fortunate human beings. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) said, "...and whenever my father used to give anything in charity, he would first put it on the hand of the beggar, then he would take it back (for a moment), kiss it, and then give it back to him. And he used to do this because charity reaches the hand of Allah before it reaches the beggar's hands."
O Allah, feed every hungry person.
Have you thought about participating in the process of helping the poor in the Muslim world – especially in Iraq where there are many Shi'a orphans and widows as result of Saddam's brutal rule, as well as the continued occupation of that land by US-led forces which further breeds insecurity created by al-Qaeda and its supporters in Jordon and Saudi Arabia? One of the signs of those who don't take the Day of Judgment seriously is that "they don't encourage (themselves as well as others) to feed the poor." (107:3)
O Allah, clothe every naked person.
What about the women and children in Darfur who suffer inhumane conditions? What do you know about the situation of the Shi'as in Afghanistan? Do you know the after-effects of the brutality of the Taliban regime upon them? Are you aware of the projects organized by Shi'a organizations to help them in Afghanistan? If not, then try to find out and do something.
O Allah, fulfill the debts of all those in debt.
Look around among your family and friends circle. If someone is really in debt because of economic circumstances, then see how you can help them; encourage them to seek counseling for debt management or see how much you can relieve them of their debts. Has your concern increased during this month?
O Allah, relieve the distress from every person who is in distress.
What about the distress of the people living in the Gaza Strip, known today to be the biggest prison on this earth? Do you think about them? Do you educate yourself about the Palestinian struggle? Have you thought of participating with groups that try to highlight the misery and distress of the Palestinians?
Are you concerned about the distress that the Iranians are going through because of the present threat against that Shia country? If the USA – against the advice of its prominent statesmen and politicians – decides to attack Iran, are you willing to join the protest movement against that war?
O Allah, return all the refugees to their homes safely.
Refugees are becoming a very common feature of this era, even in the Muslim world. Do we think about them or is our attitude like of those mentioned in the Surah Yasin: "Why should we bother – if Allah wished, He could have fed them Himself!"
O Allah, grant freedom to every innocent prisoner.
When we uttered these words or heard them or read them on the screen with its English translation on the monitors during the nightly programs at our centres, did the pictures of innocent prisoners come to our minds? What about those who are in Israeli jails? What about those likes of Maher Arar who are in secret prisons run by the USA in different parts of world? How much do we know and care about those Muslims in North America who are in jail based on the so-called security certificate where the accused or his lawyer cannot even see the evidence used against him? Do we know that prominent non-Muslims have spoken against this injustice?
O Allah, reform whatever is wrong in the affairs of the Muslims.
We probably don't have the means to bring about the change in the Ummah on a global level, but what have we done for the betterment and reformation of our own community? Do we participate in resolving community issues? If things are not working as we wish, what have we done besides complaining? We can't always get consensus on all things, but we cannot afford to ignore the ultimate goal of making this community a better one. In pursuit of becoming a God-conscious and God-fearing community, we cannot afford to abandon the most important social principle of Islam: Amr bil Ma'ruf and Nahi 'anil Munkar. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has said in his will that if you abandon these two articles of faith, evil ones will rule over you, and then you will sit down and pray for relief – but Allah will not listen to your prayers because you abandoned Amr and Nahi.
O Allah, provide the cure for every sick person.
How do you care for those who are sick amongst your circle of friends? What about those who are sick in the community and are alone? Is there a mechanism to know about them and provide support for them?
O Allah, eliminate our poverty by Your benevolence; O Allah, change our bad situation by the grace of Your benevolence; O Allah, relieve us of our debts and make us free from need. You surely have power over everything.
The sequence of this Du'a is a message by itself – only after praying for others (the dead ones; the poor; the hungry; the naked; those in debt; those in distress; those who are away from their homes; the innocent prisoners; the Muslim Ummah at large; and the sick), the Prophet is teaching us to pray for ourselves. Build in yourselves a concern for others. We need unity in concern for those less fortunate and for our community.
This is the message of Eid al-Fitr, expressed also in the verse recited in that prayer: "Indeed success is for one who pays charity and remembers the name of his Lord and prays." This refers to the issue of paying the fitra (charity) on the day of Eid al-Fitr before going for the Eid prayers. The verse goes on, "You prefer the present life while the hereafter is better and ever-lasting. This (message) has come in the scrolls of Ibrahim and Musa." (87:14-19)
So let us unite with the Prophets, with Ibrahim and Musa, with the Prophet of Islam and the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt, and with the Present Imam (peace be upon them all) in imbibing the concern for the Ummah and fellow human beings in our hearts. This is, indeed, the true basis of unity.
Message of the Second Khutba
Once Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib said in his Khutba of Eid al-Fitr, "O people! This day is like the day of your resurrection. So consider your coming out of your homes to your places of [Eid] prayer like your coming out of the graves towards your Lord. And consider your presence in this place of prayer like the day your will be presented before your Lord [for judgment]. And consider your return to your homes like your return to your homes in the Paradise! O servants of Allah! The least that the people who fasted can expect on the last day of Ramadan is that an angel will announce: 'Good tidings, O servants of Allah, for your past sins have been forgiven; so be careful in what you do from now on.'"
Now that Imam Ali has asked us to consider that our return from the Eid prayer is like returning to our homes in the Paradise, try to maintain the spirit of Paradise in your behavior with your wife or husband, your parents, and your children.Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the author's Al-Furqan newsletter and has been reproduced here with permission.