Dates for assembly
For a month now, Muslims have been fasting; going without food during daylight hours. On the last night of Ramadan, when the new moon is expected, nobody bothers to go to bed. As soon as a group of leaders in each community has sighted the moon, Ramadan is over. It is the first day of the month of Shawwal, called Id-ul-Fitr ("the feast of fast-breaking") and a time to rejoice at having successfully faced the challenge of fasting.
At dawn, the early morning prayers may take place out of doors so that there is room for all those who want to take part. Everyone comes in their best new clothes. Next, the men may go to a cemetery to say a prayer beside the family grave. Then it is time for families to visit relatives and friends to swap presents and to give each other sweets, sugared almonds and nuts. In the Middle East, a favourite food is baklava. These are little cakes or sweets made from filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in honey.
In some places there will be street parties but, everywhere, Muslims wish each other "Id Mubarak" ("Blessed be your celebration") and exchange Id cards. In Turkey, they say, "Elveda, ey Ramadan!" ("Goodbye to Ramadan!").
Id-ul-Fitr is sometimes called Little Id. Although it may last three days, it is shorter than Id-ul-Adha, which marks the end of the annual hajj or pilgrimage to Makkah.
The poor are not forgotten at Little Id. Before going to mosque, each Muslim pays his zakah (or zakat) to help the needy. Zakah is not a tax but a duty; the word means "to make pure". In some Islamic countries the amount is set. It is traditionally at least the cost of one meal per person in each household.
Design your own Id card. Examples can be found in many shops in areas with a Muslim population. Note that the Prophet told his followers not to make images of living things. There are recipes for traditional desserts at www.ramadan.co.uk (click on Delicious Meals).
A detailed account of Id as celebrated in Birmingham is www.bbc.co.ukbirminghamcontentarticles20041118adams_eid_feature.shtml