It is haram to fast on the days of Eid because of the Hadith of Abu Sa’iid al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, forbade fasting on the day of Fitr and the day of Sacrifice (Adha). (Reported by Muslim, 827)
Ruling on the `Eid Prayers:
Some of the scholars say that Eid prayers are wajib (obligatory) – this is the view of the Hanafi scholars and of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him). They say that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, always prayed the Eid prayer and never neglected doing it, not even once. They take as evidence the verse, “Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only)” [al-Kawthar 108:2], i.e., the Eid prayer and the sacrifice after it, which is an instruction, and the fact that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, ordered that the women should be brought out to attend the Eid prayers, and that a woman who did not have a jilbab should borrow one from her sister.
Some scholars say that Eid prayer is fard kifaya (Collective Duty). This is the view of the Hanbalis. A third group say that Eid prayer is sunnah mu’akkadah (Confirmed Sunnah). This is the view of the Malikis and Shafa’is. They take as evidence the Hadith of the Bedouin which says that Allah has not imposed any prayers on His slaves other than the five daily prayers. So the Muslim should be keen to attend Eid prayers, especially since the opinion that it is wajib is based on strong evidence.
The goodness, blessings and great reward one gets from attending `Eid prayers, and the fact that one is following the example of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, by doing so, should be sufficient motivation.
Essentials and Timing of `Eid Prayer:
Some scholars (the Hanafis and Hanbalis) say that the conditions of Eid prayer are that the iqamah should be recited and the prayer should be offered in jamaah (congregation). Some of them said that the conditions of Eid prayer are the same as the conditions for Friday prayer, with the exception of the khutbah, attendance at which is not obligatory. The majority of scholars say that the time for the Eid prayer starts when the sun has risen above the height of a spear, as seen by the naked eye, and continues until the sun is approaching its zenith.
Description of the `Eid Prayer:
Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The prayer of Eid and al-Adha is two complete rak`ahs, not shortened. This is according to the words of your Prophet, and the liar is doomed.”
Abu Sa`iid said: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, used to come out to the prayer-place on the day of Fitr and al-Adha, and the first thing he would do was the prayer.”
The Takbeer is repeated seven times in the first rak`ah and five times in the second, the Qur’an is to be recited after each.
It was reported from A’ishah: the Takbeer of al-Fitr and al-Adha is seven in the first rakah and five in the second, apart from the takbeer of ruku`. (Reported by Abu Dawud)
If a person joining the prayer catches up with the imam during these extra takbeers, he should say “Allahu Akbar” with the imam, and he does not have to make up any takbeera he may have missed, because they are sunnah, not wajib. With regard to what should be said between the takbeers, Hammad ibn Salamah reported from Ibrahim that Walid ibn Uqbah entered the mosque when Ibn Mas’uud, Hudhayfah and Abu Musa were there, and said, “Eid is here, what should I do?” Ibn Mas’uud said: “Say ‘Allahu Akbar’, praise and thank Allah, send blessings on the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and make du`a’, then say, ‘Allahu Akbar’, praise and thank Allah, send blessings on the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him,…etc.” (Reported by at-Tabarani).
Recitation of Qur’an in `Eid Prayers:
It is recommended (mustahabb) that in the Eid prayers the imam should recite Qaf [Surah 50] and Iqtarabat As-Saah [al-Qamar, Surah 54], as it is reported in Sahih Muslim that Umar ibn al-Khattab asked Abu Waqid al-Laythi, “What did the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, used to recite at [Eid] al-Adha and al-Fitr?” He said, “He used to recite Qaf. Wa’l-Qur’an al-Majeed [Qaf 50:1] and Iqtarabat As-Sa`ah wa inshaqq al-Qamar [al-Qamar 54:1].
Most of the reports indicate that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, used to recite Surah al-Ala  and Surah al-Ghashiyah , as he used to recite them in the Friday prayer. An-Numan ibn Bashir said: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, used to recite on the two Eids and on Fridays, Sabbih isma rabbika’l-Ala [al-A`la 87:1] and Hal ataka Hadith al-Ghashiyah [al-Ghashiyah 88:1].” (Sahih Muslim, 878).
Samurah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, used to recite on the two Eids, Sabbih isma rabbika’l-Ala [al-A`la 87:1] and Hal ataka Hadith al-Ghashiyah [al-Ghashiyah 88:1].” (Reported by Ahmad and others, 3/116)
The Prayer Comes Before the Khutbah:
One of the rulings of Eid is that the prayer should come before the khutbah, as is reported in Musnad Ahmad from the Hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas, who testified that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, prayed before the khutbah on `Eid, then he gave the khutbah.” (Musnad Ahmad, 1905).
Another indication that the khutbah should be after the prayer is the Hadith of Abu Said (may Allah be pleased with him): “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, used to go out to the prayer-place on the day of al-Fitr and al-Adha, and the first thing he would do was to pray, then he would stand up facing the people, whilst they were still sitting in their rows, and would advise and instruct them. If he wanted to send out a military expedition, he would decide about the matter then, or if he wanted to issue a command, he would do it then.” Abu Sa’iid said: “This is what the people continued to do until I came out [to the Eid prayers] with Marwan, when he was governor of Madinah, on either Adha or Fitr. When we reached the prayer-place, we saw the minbar, which had been built by Katheer ibn al-Salt. Marwan wanted to get on the minbar before the prayer. I pulled on his cloak, and he pulled on mine in return, then he got on the minbar and gave the khutbah before the prayer. I said, ‘You have changed it, by Allah!’ He said, ‘O Abu Sa’iid, what you know is gone.’ I said, ‘What I know, by Allah, is better than what I do not know.’ He said, ‘The people will not remain sitting after the prayer, so we made it [the khutbah] before the prayer.’“ (Reported by al-Bukhari, 956).
Anyone who wants to leave during the khutbah is allowed to do so
Abd-Allah ibn al-Sa’ib said: “I attended Eid with the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and when he finished the prayer, he said: “We will give the khutbah, so whoever wants to sit (and listen to) the khutbah, let him sit, and whoever wants to leave, let him go.’”
Not Delaying the Prayer for Too Long:
`Abd-Allah ibn Bishr, the companion of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, went out with the people on the day of Fitr or al-Adha, and objected to the fact that the imam came very late. He said, “At the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, we would have finished by now,” and that was at the time of al-Tasbih.” (Reported by al-Bukhari)
Supererogatory Prayers in the Prayer-place:
There are no Supererogatory (Nafl) prayers to be done either before or after the Eid prayer, as Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, used to come out on the day of Eid and pray two rakahs, with nothing before or after them.
This is the case if the prayer is offered in a prayer place or public place. If, however, the people pray the Eid prayer in a mosque, then they should pray two rakahs for Tahiyat al-Masjid (“Greeting the mosque”) before sitting down.
If People Did Not Know About `Eid Until the Next Day:
Abu Umayr ibn Anas reported from his paternal uncles among the Ansar who said: “It was cloudy and we could not see the new moon of Shawwal, so we started the day fasting, then a caravan came at the end of the day and told the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, that they had seen the new moon of Shawwal the day before, so he told the people to stop fasting, and they went out to pray the Eid prayer the next day.” (Reported by the five)
If someone misses the Eid prayer, the most correct view is that he may make it up by praying two rakahs.
Women’s Attendance at `Eid Prayers:
Hafsah said: “We used to prevent prepubescent girls from attending Eid prayers. Then a woman came and stayed at the fort of Banu Khalaf, and told us about her sister. Her sister’s husband had taken part in twelve campaigns with the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and [she said], ‘my sister was with him on six of them. She said, “We used to treat the wounded and take care of the sick. My sister asked the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, whether there was anything wrong with her not going out [on Eid] if she did not have a jilbab. He said, ‘Let her friend give her one of her jilbabs so that she may witness the blessings of Eid and see the Muslims gathering.’“‘ When Umm ‘Atiyah came, I asked her, ‘Did you hear the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, [say this]?’ She said, ‘May my father be sacrificed for him’ – and she never mentioned him without saying ‘may my father be sacrificed for him’ – ‘I heard him saying that we should bring out the young girls and those who were secluded, or the young girls who were secluded, and the menstruating women, so that they could witness the blessings ofEid and see the gathering of the believers, but those who were menstruating were to keep away from the prayer-place itself.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 324).
The ‘young girls’ (awatiq, sing. atiq) are girls who have reached adolescence or are close to it, or have reached the age of marriage, or are very precious to their families, or who are spared from having to do humiliating work. It appears that they used to prevent these young girls from going out because of the corruption that arose after the first generation of Islam; but the Sahabah did not approve of that and they thought that the ruling should remain in their time as it had been during the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
Where it says “My sister was with him” it seems that there is something omitted, probably “the woman said”. [This is reflected in the translation above. Translator]….
“Her jilbabs” – she should lend her some of her clothes that she does not need.
“Secluded” – they would have a curtain in the corner of the house behind which virgins would stay.
“Menstruating women” – huyyad, sing. ha’id – this may refer either to girls who have reached the age of puberty, or women who are having their period and are not tahir (pure).
“Menstruating women should avoid the prayer-place itself” – Ibn al-Munayyir said: “The reason why they should avoid the prayer-place is that if they stand with the women who are praying even though they are not praying, it may appear that they have no respect for the prayer or are careless, so it better for them to avoid that.”
It was said that the reason why menstruating women should avoid the prayer-place is as a precaution, so that women will not come near men for no reason if they are not praying, or so that they will not offend others with their blood or their odor.
The Hadith urges everyone to attend `Eid prayer, and to co-operate with one another in righteousness and piety. The menstruating woman should not forsake the remembrance of Allah or places of goodness such as gatherings for the purpose of seeking knowledge and remembering Allah – apart from mosques. The Hadith also indicates that women should not go out without a jilbab.
This Hadith tells us that it is not proper for young women and women in seclusion to go out except for a valid reason. It states that it is preferable (mustahabb) for a woman to wear a jilbab, and that it is permissible to lend and borrow clothes. It also indicates that `Eid prayer is obligatory (wajib).
Ibn Abi Shaybah also narrated that Ibn Umar used to take whoever he could of his household out to the Eid prayers.
The Hadith of Umm Atiyah also states the reason for the ruling, which is so that women may witness the blessings of Eid, see the gathering of the Muslims, and share the blessings and purification of this day.
At-Tirmidhi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his Sunan, after quoting the Hadith of Umm Atiyah: “Some of the scholars referred to this Hadith and allowed women to go out to the Eid prayers, and some of them disliked this. It was reported that Abd-Allah ibn al-Mubarak said: ‘I do not like for women to go out to Eid prayers nowadays. If a woman insists on going out, her husband should let her, if she goes out wearing her shabbiest clothes and not adorning herself. If she insists on adorning herself, then she should not go out. In this case the husband has the right to stop her from going out. It was reported that A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: ‘If the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had seen what has happened to women, he would have stopped them from going to the mosques, just as the women of Bani Isra’eel were stopped.’ It was reported that Sufyan al-Thawri did not like women to go to the Eid prayers in his day.” (At-Tirmidhi, 495).
Umm Atiyah gave her fatwa in the Hadith mentioned above a while after the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had died, and it is not reported that any of the Sahabah disagreed with this. The words ofA’ishah, “If the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had seen what has happened to women, he would have stopped them from going to the mosques”, do not contradict this (provided that women are meeting the Islamic conditions attached to their going out)… It is better if permission is given only to those women who are not who are not going to look at men or be looked at, whose attendance will not lead to anything undesirable and who are not going to rub shoulders with men on the street or in the mosque. (i.e., women whose going out will not cause fitnah or temptation to her or to men).
Men should check on their womenfolk when they are going out for the prayer to make sure that their hijab is complete, because they are the “shepherds” who are responsible for their “flocks”. Women should go out in shabby clothes, not adorned or wearing perfume. Menstruating women should not enter the mosque or prayer-place; they can wait in the car, for example, where they can hear the khutbah.