The holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset, is over. Now Muslims will celebrate the three-day Eid al-Fitr, or celebration of Breaking the fast.
At sundown on Saturday Egyptian Muslims ended their annual month of fasting and prayer.
Muslims in some other countries had already declared the holy month of Ramadan to be over. Kamal Abul Magd, a member of the al-Azhar religious studies committee and an expert on Islamic affairs, explains that each Muslim country declares the beginning of the Eid based on a sighting of the new moon.
"It so happens that from one country to the other, the moon may appear to some, may not appear to the others," he said.
This year, religious authorities in Saudi Arabia and many of its neighbors, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, began their Eid feast on Saturday. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Oman and Yemen celebrated a day later.
The way the three-day holiday is celebrated varies from one Muslim country to another. In general, on the first morning of the Eid, many Muslims go to special prayers that take place well before sunrise. People buy new clothes, pay visits, and gather with their families to celebrate, relax, and enjoy large meals.
Mr. Abul Magd says that after a month of purification and prayer, the Eid feast focuses on the pleasures of life and the joys of friends and family. It's an occasion to socialize and to improve relations between individuals, he says.
"After you have controlled yourself for so long, for 30 days, you are entitled to celebrate, to feel that religion is not all stiff and hard and harsh and difficult," he said. "Everybody should feel free, enjoy. No blaming the others, no suspecting the others, no condemning anybody. Just celebrate."
It is common for Muslims to give donations to the poor, so that everyone can celebrate this holiday. It's also customary to give children gifts, often small amounts of money.