Ramadan has come to an end, with Muslims around the world celebrating the arrival of Eid al-Fitr.
Like other Muslim observances, the date of Eid is calculated by the sighting of the moon, which means we can’t predict the end date of the holy month with complete accuracy.
But after the Shawwal crescent moon was sighted on Sunday 1 May in Saudi Arabia – rather than on Saturday – it was confirmed that it is being celebrated on Monday 2 May.
It means that today Muslims will once again greet each other with the familiar phrase “Eid Mubarak” – here’s what it means.
What does ‘Eid Mubarak’ mean?
“Eid Mubarak” is the traditional phrase used by Muslims to greet each other during the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha celebrations later in the year.
The Arabic word “mubarak” translates as “blessed,” while “Eid” means feast, festival or celebration, so “Eid Mubarak” can literally mean “blessed celebration” or “blessed feast”, although it is widely interpreted as simply wishing somebody a “happy Eid”.
While you can specify “Eid al-Fitr Mubarak” or “Eid al-Adha Mubarak” to specify between the two festivals, “Eid Mubarak” alone is plenty.
In exactly the same way, Muslims will often wish their fellow observers “Ramadan Mubarak” at the start of the holy month and throughout the fasting period.
“Ramadan Kareem” is less commonly used, but translates as “Generous Ramadan” – while the phrase can be used as a greeting in a similar way to “Ramadan Mubarak”, it can also describe Ramadan when referring to it in a wider context.
There is some debate around whether using “Ramadan Kareem” is appropriate, given that the expectation of generosity can be considered against the principles of fasting and prayer central to observing the holy month.
However, others argue that the greeting can appropriately refer to the generosity of acts towards others. Khaled Boudemagh, described by Gulf News as a Dubai-based language expert, said: “Ramadan is a month of generosity, therefore wish Kareem.”
Both “Mubarak” and “Kareem” are also given names in Arabic, which carry the same meanings as bestowed in the Eid and Ramadan greetings.
What is Eid al-Fitr?
Eid al-Fitr’s name comes from an Arabic term which translates as the “feast of breaking the fast” and, although not usually a public holiday in the UK (unless, like this year, it falls on a bank holiday), it is for many Muslim countries.
It is traditional for Muslims to gather together in a park to celebrate breaking their fast, with large-scale events and festival food (particularly sweet treats), prayer and stalls.
After Eid some Muslims decide to fast for the six days that follow. This stems from the Islamic belief that a good deed in Islam is rewarded 10 times, thus fasting for 30 days during Ramadan and six days during Shawwal creates a year’s worth of goodwill.
How is Eid al-Adha different?
The second Eid festival in the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha, falls later in the year. Its name literally translates as “Feast of the Sacrifice,” and it is considered the holy grail of the two Eids.
It honors the story of the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim – known in the Christian Old Testament as Abraham – to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God’s command.
To commemorate this, an animal is traditionally sacrificed and divided into three parts in an act known as Qurbani. One part of the sheep is given to the poor, one to the immediate family at home and one is reserved for relatives.
Some Muslims may give money to charity to give poorer families the chance to have a proper Eid feast. Mosques and community groups will often arrange communal meals.