Annual cultural festivals all over the world are usually almost exclusively for the rich as the financial resources required to celebrate them are beyond the reach of the poor. The poor are therefore left with no alternative but to watch from far or participate by offering occasional labour services for the rich. Idd ul Fitr is unique as every Muslim regardless of social rank celebrates the important Islamic festival. This is a festival for all- rich, middle class or poor. It is indeed one religio-cultural institution in Islam that dismantles all social barriers at least once a year. The moment Ramadhan begins, every Muslim is empowered by other Muslim brothers/sisters to observe the obligatory one month fast through regular donations of sadaqah which may be on daily basis and in form of food for iftar or cash to purchase the necessary foodstuffs. This is a practice done at both individual and organizational levels. Other well-to-do Muslims even prefer to host their poor faithful in their own houses throughout the month so that they share in the iftar meals and make their fasting easy for them. Mosques and Islamic organizations also provide Iftar in the mosques to enable needy Muslims break their fast while participating in Maghrib congregational prayer. This recommended spirit of giving during Ramadhan acts as a build up to the spiritual climax necessary for the mandatory donations required at the end of Ramadhan.
Islam has sustained the celebration of Idd ul Fitr festival for more than 1400 years by introducing the obligatory tax known as Zakatul Fitr. This is a charitable tax payable at the end of Ramadhan just before the Idd ul Fitr congregational prayer which serves the purpose of purifying the fast. The rich and all Muslim faithful who are capable are obliged to donate a minimum amount of food enough to feed a person for a whole day in form of staple foods common in a particular area e.g. wheat flour, rice, maize meal etc. or its cash equivalent. In Kenya the cash equivalent is about Ksh 300 per person. The head of the household pays Zakatul Fitr for self, family members and other dependants or domestic workers. The donations may be channeled directly to beneficiaries or through mosques and other Islamic organizations. The celebrations have also been added pomp and colour by rich Muslims who besides restricting their donations to the mandatory basic food items go a step further to provide new clothing to the needy to enable them appear smart and enjoy their Idd as they participate in congregational prayer or attend Idd Barazas(Idd rallies extravaganza commonly observed in East Africa). In recent times, children’s Idd games and entertainments have been incorporated into Idd ul Fitr festival. Special games and entertainments for children are organized by business firms and children oriented organizations in suitable public parks where entry fee is payable. Here also, children from poor families are empowered to join their counterparts from the upper social class by being given cash donations or specifically sponsored for the Idd events. This is the beauty of Idd ul Fitr. It is the only festival in the world where every societal member is a participant whether rich or poor.