The Eid prayer (salatu'l-`idayn) is "waajib" (obligatory) for every male Muslim. The founder of the Islam religion, Prophet Muhammad, consistently performed these prayers and commanded that every Muslim, male and female, attend them. He wanted every unmarried woman, the virgins and the menstruating women, to attend the Eid prayer, and witness the good and the supplications of the believers. While the virgins are considered fit to participate in the prayers, the menstruating women are not allowed to take part in the ceremonies and they should stay away from the musalla (Muslim sanctuary).
The time for the Eid prayer begins from the time the sun is three meters from the horizon until the sun reaches its meridian.
The Eid prayer consists of two Rak`at (full prayer units). During these prayer services, it is sunnah/hadith (prescribed) to pronounce the takbir, a proclamation of the greatness of Allah, such as "Allahu akbar". The first rak`ah (one prayer unit) must be started with Takbirul-ihram; this is followed by the opening supplication. The opening supplication in the first rak`ah is followed by seven other Takbirs.
During the second rak'ah, a takbir is practiced for standing after praying in a lying down position. This is followed by five more Takbirs. During each pronouncement of the takbir, one is supposed to raise his/her hands. The custom is based on an account by Umar and his son Abdullah. However, the tradition has been contested by other schools of thought.
The prayer is followed by the Khutbah (public sermon), which is part of the worship. Making the Khutbah is a sunnah and so is listening to it. The preaching is traditionally done by the Imam (the man leading the prayers in a mosque), who reminds the faithful congregation about its responsibilities and obligations towards Allah, and people of their own as well as of other faiths. He encourages the assembled people to abide by the scriptural laws, to do good (specially through almsgiving, an important part of Eid) and get rid of all evil propensities.
As the prayer ends, Muslims greet each other with festive wishes, present young ones with nice gifts to the young ones and visit the homes of friends and relatives. This is also a time when Muslims invite their non-Muslim neighbors, friends, colleagues, classmates and clients to their homes and treat them to Eid delicacies thus giving them a glimpse of the Muslim culture and joyful Islamic celebrations.
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