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Eid al-Fitr: Muslims mark the end of Ramadan holy month

April 10, 2024

Muslims across the world, including in Germany, are celebrating after a month of fasting and prayer. For many Muslims this year it is a somber event amid the war in Gaza.

Muslim worshippers take part in the Eid prayers in Qatar on April 10, 2024
Sunni Muslims, many of them adhering to the conservative Salafist school of thought, are the largest religious group in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar Image: Saleh Salem/REUTERS

Muslims worldwide on Wednesday are observing the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the 30-day holy month of Ramadan

During the month of Ramadan, it is customary for Muslims to fast from dawn to dusk, and perform special Tarawih prayers — which involve reading from the Quran — at their local mosque.

This year's festivities have in part been overshadowed by the ongoing war in Gaza and a spike in violence in the occupied West Bank. Jerusalem, which is split between Israeli and Palestinian control and often a hotbed of tensions between the two, is home to the al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites for Muslims.

Martin Griffiths, the UN's humanitarian affairs coordinator, tweeted that "In the shadow of global crises, as Ramadan concludes, let's deepen our commitment to solidarity and remember those facing conflict and hardship everyday." 

War in Gaza overshadows Eid celebrations

German president says Ramadan is part of 'life in Germany'

Germany is home to between 5.3 and 5.6 million Muslims, according to official figures published in 2020.

German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier said "Ramadan and breaking the fast are part of the diverse life of faith in Germany."

"The fact that today, at the end of the month of fasting, Muslim communities throughout the country are inviting their fellow human beings of other faiths is an important sign of tolerance and respect and of the willingness to live together and exchange ideas," Steinmeier said.  

Muslims take part in the Eid al-Fitr prayer at the Martyrs Mosque in Berlin on April 10
The German capital, Berlin, is home to the Ottoman-style Sehitlik MosqueImage: Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu/picture alliance

For many Muslims, however, the Eid holiday this year is a somber event amid the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Almost the entire population of Gaza has been forcibly displaced amid Israel's war against Hamas, with the UN warning that famine is imminent due to short supplies of food and water, which Israel has restricted through border controls

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for Israelis to declare a temporary cease-fire to allow "total access" to food and medicine into Gaza. The Israeli military campaign in Gaza has now lasted more than six months after the Hamas terror attacks on October 7 which triggered the war.  

Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza take part in Eid prayers on April 10, 2024
Palestinians in Gaza are observing Eid amid deteriorating humanitarian conditionsImage: Mohammed Salem/REUTERS

Hyper-reclusive Taliban leader gives rare address 

Meanwhile, in another part of the Muslim world, Afghanistan, the Taliban's hyper-reclusive supreme leader made a rare appearance on Wednesday for the Eid holiday.

Taliban spokesperon Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that Hibatullah Akhundzada led prayers at the largest mosque in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan. Mujahid posted a 35-minute audio address from Akhundzada on X, formerly known as Twitter.  

Akhundzada has made only a few public appearances since inheriting the leadership of the Taliban in 2016, and led the Islamist militant movement back to power with the withdrawal of US forces in 2021.

The Taliban have been criticized for their harsh religious governance in Afghanistan, which bans women from going to school. In his speech on Wednesday, Akhundzada said: "I will not take even a step away from the Islamic law."

Muslims take part in Eid prayers in Herat, Afghanistan
The Taliban-controlled govenrment has called on Imams in Afghanistan to read out a message from leader Hibatullah Akhundzada for Eid, which calls on citizens to respect Sharia law Image: MOHSEN KARIMI/AFP

How is the Eid holiday celebrated?

The Eid al-Fitr holiday, which can last as long as three days, starts off with donations of food to the less fortunate — known as Zakat al-Fitr — before a special morning prayer.


Indonesian worshippers take part in Eid prayer on April 10
Although Islam originated in the Middle East, the southeast Asian nation of Indonesia has the world's single highest population of MuslimsImage: Riska Munawarah/REUTERS

Traditions for the Islamic holiday include spending time with family, wearing one's best clothes and eating sweets. Kids often receive money, known as Eidiyah, to mark the holiday. 

There are around 1.9 billion Muslims around the world, with the largest Muslim-majority countries including Indonesia, Pakistan and India.

Women in Pakistan display their hands with Henna to mark Eid al-Fitr on April 10
Pakistani women adorn their hands with Henna to celebrate the Eid holidayImage: Muhammad Sajjad/AP/picture alliance

The religion of Islam originated in the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century, in the cities of Mecca and Medina in modern-day Saudi Arabia which Muslims regard as the holiest sites on the planet. Saudi Arabia determines the beginning of Eid al-Fitr in line with a sighting of the crescent moon. 

wd/ab (AP, dpa)