105 million Muslims make India the second most populous Islamic nation in the world. They form India’s largest minority and constitute almost 12% of India’s total population. Islam is also the most recent religion added to India’s already potent cultural concoction. Islam came to India in the 12th century a.d. and opened a dialogue with Indian culture especially under the Mughals. Needless to say, it was a mutually enriching experience. A majority of India’s Muslims live in the north but a significant number are found all around the country. Hence their traditions add yet another dimension to the vast cultural landscape of India.
To get to the significance of Eid, one must first understand the meaning of Ramzan. ‘Ramz’ means to burn, and fasting is considered to burn down ones sins. Fasting or Roza starts at sunrise and lasts until sunset. During this time no food or water is consumed. Pregnant women, the handicapped and the ailing, people on a long journey, and ladies in confinement are exempted from Roza, but they must resume fasting on recovery.
The principle behind Roza is to understand the plight of the poor and pledge to live a more significant and meaningful life. Prophet Mohammed said, "if a person observing fast does not shun untruth, his having given up eating and drinking is of little value. Such a person starves for nothing. and those who rise in the midnight to recite prayers but do not give up untruth and evil deeds, lose their sleep for nothing."
Due to the rigorous discipline during the days of Ramzan, a believer becomes one with religion and feels a genuine need to do good and lead a more refined and introspective life. Giving money and material goods away in charity is another Islamic custom that every conscientious Muslim practises. In fact Zakat, or charity is one of the five main tenets of Islam. A true Muslim is expected to be magnanimous throughout the year, all the more so during Ramzan. Every Muslim who owns 52.5 tolas (one tola is approximately 10 grams) of silver or an equivalent amount of wealth must donate at least 2.5% of his total income to the needy during the month of Ramzan.