Reflections on Eid al-Fitr: Fusion of faith with caring for environment

Today, April 21, has been declared a special non-working public holiday to commemorate the end of Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting observed by Muslims throughout the world. It is known as Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of Breaking the Fast, that typically lasts for three days, or one less than what is observed in Eid al-Adha, the end of the pilgrimage season later in the year.

The observance of Eid al-Fitr begins with special morning prayers, at which greetings of “Eid Mubarak” which means “Have a blessed Eid” are exchanged. Gatherings of family and friends are held in which special meals are served, including savory delights such as the Turkish baklava, date-filled pastries and cookies in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and honey cake in Yemen.

Another significant feature of the observance is the ritual of giving to those in need. Donations to charity are given, as well as special attention to less fortunate families. Finally, “Muslims are encouraged to give and seek forgiveness during Eid al-Fitr, and look forward to the opportunity to fast again during Ramadan the following year.”

According to scholars on Islam, the deepening of individual consciousness of the Creator “implies that one should develop an appreciation, love and authentic form of care for what has been created by God.” Hence, this year’s observance is marked by heightened consciousness on the importance of saving planet earth from the ravages of climate change and environmental degradation. Mongabay, a conservation news web portal that reports on environmental science, energy, and green design points out: “The act of glorification and worship which is shared by all communities of beings on the Earth is a sacred bond which must be carefully tended to. The connection of the inner state of the heart with the outer state of physical action is the very point of intersection at which Ramadan and the (United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or) IPCC report meet. As Muslims focus on their worship as well as acts of service to humanity, it is imperative that they make a very conscious commitment to connect their acts of worship toward the wellbeing of the earth this Ramadan.”

Mongabay calls attention to the need to ensure the conservation of Mt. Busa in Sarangani province, home to one of the last verdant primary forests in Mindanao: “Despite its ecological importance, the mountain has enjoyed little protection, with only the topmost slopes falling under a local conservation zone.” Designated as a key biodiversity area in 2001, environmentalists and local officials are now pushing to legalize and strengthen the mountain’s protection by including it in the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas Systems (E-NIPAS).

Lastly, a clean and green Ramadan – in which plastics would be absent from the meals of many Muslims breaking their fast – is a popular theme of this year’s observance. It is reported that many mosques are progressively discontinuing single use-products, such as plastic knives, forks and water bottles.
When faith translates into behavior that is socially beneficial, then it becomes truly providential.