Id Al-Fitr

  • Issue: May 1986
  • Designer: A. Berg
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5

Id al-fitr the "Minor Feast", marks the end of the month of Ramadan, during which every Moslem is forbidden to eat, drink or smoke from sunrise to sunset. This fast, if undertaken with devotion, atones for the faster's sins and leads to forgiveness. Tradition has it that during Ramadan, the gates of Heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and all the devils put in chains. 'Id al-f itr, the festival of the conclusion of the fast, on the eve of the first day 6f'the month of Shawal, is proclaimed by the firing of cannons after a number of faithful witnesses have reported the sighting of the new moon. The festive celebrations go on for three days with house-to-house visits and the exchanging of gifts and blessings accompanied by hugs and kisses. The celebrants put on one or more items of new clothing.

During Ramadan the Koran is recited from beginning to end at least once, and at the start of the Feast there are public prayers and a sermon, after which the congregation practises the commandment to be charitable. Most families follow this by paying a visit to the cemetery. They then place palm branches on the graves and recite the opening verses of the Koran. Some even engage the services of a reader to recite aloud the entire Koran.

The El Jazzar mosque in Akko, the largest and most beautiful Ottoman mosque in Israel, was designed and built in 1781 under the personal supervision of the Governor of Sidon, Jazzar Pasha, who made Akko his capital. In line with Turkish custom at that time, the open space of the prayer-hall is in the shape of a cube capped by a round cupula. Close to the prayer-hall there towers a slender minaret which comes to a very fine pencil-like point, while adjacent to it is the room in which Ahmed el Jazzar and his son Suleiman lie buried. The ladies' section is in the form of a balcony running around three sides of the mosque, while in the centre of the fourth side, which faces south and indicates the direction the congregation turns to in prayer, there is a richly coloured "Mihrab" (prayer niche) with the pulpit to one side. The open courtyard is surrounded by arched columns, study rooms and living accommodation. In the centre of. the courtyard is a marble-lined ritual pool, situated in a small building which is topped by a cupola. A second building, similar in style, containing a water-tap for the use of passers-by, stands close to the outside of the courtyard, adjacent to the entrance steps. The courtyard also contains a marble sundial decorated with ornamental verses, and the shadow thrown by the dial indicates to the worshippers the time for prayer at each season of the year.

What is special about this mosque and accounts for its beauty is the richness of its decorations which reflect very ancient local traditions. The granite and marble pillars which were taken from the ruins of Caesarea lead the eye to a multi-coloured carpet of flowered ceramic tiles and thence to the balcony and on to the coloured marble mosaic along the walls of the inner hall. The picture is completed by beautifully laid-out flower beds in the courtyard which are bordered with marble into which is inset the inscription "Hekdesh el Jazzar".

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Id Al-Fitr