The Prophet said: “The fasting person has two occasions for joy, one upon breaking the fast, and the other upon meeting His Lord.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (1904) and Sahīh Muslim (1151)]
The joy of breaking the fast comes every night in Ramadān when we complete the day’s fasting, and it comes as well at the end of Ramadān when we complete the entire month. We feel joy at the end of Ramadām for fulfilling our duty to our Lord and for obeying Him. We have a sense of accomplishment, knowing we prevailed over our physical desires seeking Allah’s pleasure. These abstract pleasures are coupled with the physical pleasures of eating and drinking.
Sahl b. Sa`īd said: “We used to feel happy on Fridays. There was an old woman of our acquaintance who used to pull out the silq (a kind of vegetable) from its roots and put it in a cooking pot, adding some powdered barley over it, and cook it. After finishing the Friday prayer, we used to visit her, whereupon she would present us with that meal, so we used to feel happy because of that.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (5403)]
They were happy because Friday is the weekly Eid of the Muslims. It is a time for worship, gathering together, and listening to beautiful preaching. Their happiness was bolstered by the meal they enjoyed afterwards given to them by their elderly acquaintance.
The fasting person’s joy will be immense on the day that we meet our Lord and see the great reward that is in store for us. Allah says: “They will rejoice in what Allah has given them out of His grace.” [Sūrah Āl `Imrān: 170]
We feel joy in this world knowing that Ramadān is the month of forgiveness and atonement. We have every hope that Allah will forgive us and give us the strength to avoid sin. This makes Allah happy with us.
Prophet Muhammad said: “Allah is happier with His servant who repents than the happiness one of you would feel if he was wandering in a barren wasteland to find his steed had wandered off with all his food and provisions. Then, after the heat and his thirst become severe, he falls asleep in the same place and wakes to find his steed standing before him, so that he grabs its reins and says: “O Allah! I am your Lord and You are my servant”, mixing up his words on account of his extreme joy.” [Sahīh Muslim (2747)]
Happiness is a natural emotional state we as human being are meant to experience, no less than sorrow. Happiness inspires us to work and be productive, and it allows us to enjoy life. It also inspires us to be grateful to our Lord and thank Him for His blessings.
The people have a short time after Ramadān before the arrival of the Hajj when they again celebrate on Eid al-Adhā. Then they can look forward to the following Ramadān. These are sure and wholesome reasons to rejoice.
We need to make sure to enjoy our lives in an excellent manner, without acting in excessive and inappropriate ways that only bring us back to sadness, fear, and shame. Happiness is not an exceptional state of being that only occurs outside of normal bounds. Quite the contrary, the closer our happiness is connected with what Islam teaches, the more lasting and stable it will be.
Happiness is natural. This is why `Ā’ishah enjoyed the Eid and watched the Ethiopian acrobats perform in the mosque, with the Prophet watching the show alongside her. Once during Eid, `Ā’ishah’s father Abū Bakr saw that she had two girls with her who were beating on tambourines. Abū Bakr got angry, but the Prophet said: “Abū Bakr, every nation has their, holidays, and this is ours.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (950) and Sahīh Muslim (892)]
The people used to celebrate their holidays in the days of ignorance. Islam did not do away with the joys of celebration and declare them blameworthy. Instead, it replaced their holidays like Nayruz and Mahrajan with the holidays of Islam, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and encouraged wholesome play and recreation that would make them occasions for joy.
On the days of Eid, the people are supposed to all go out to attend the congregational prayer, men and women alike, young and old. Women should not wear perfume or showy clothes, but they should be in festive spirits, meet with their sisters, and have a deep sense of accomplishment for completing the month of fasting.
We are called upon to give in charity on the two Eids. This enables the poor to enjoy these days and share in the celebration. The Eids strengthen our collective identity and cultivate social cohesion. This cannot happen if there is great material inequality between the members of society, or where there no affection and no sense of others’ suffering.
This should inspire us to forgive one another on the occasion of Eid, visit each other, and rekindle old friendships. Disputes between neighbours should be put aside, and husbands and wives should resolve their problems. Eid is a time for us to come together, to be with our families, play, and have a good time. This is praiseworthy fun.
There are also blameworthy ways to celebrate Eid. This comes as the result of one of two things. The first is to celebrate in ways that are forbidden by Allah. This is like what the people said to Qārūn when he transgressed: “Do not revel in exaltation, for Allah does not love those who exult.” [Sūrah al-Qasas: 76]
He was gleeful in his greed and his abuse of other people’s wealth. This is why Allah says: “This is because you used to rejoice in the Earth without right and you used to behave insolently.” [Sūrah Ghāfir: 75]
The second is to go to excess in celebrating. Excessiveness in joyful things inevitably leads to sorrow. This is because those who exaggerate their joys also exaggerate their sorrows, and their hearts turn very quickly from the state of happiness to that of grief. Excess in celebrating also happens when we take that which is lawful in and of itself and engage in it in a way that it leads us to transgress Islamic teachings. This happens when we fail to keep ourselves in check and lose control of ourselves.