The Status of the `Eid Prayer in Islam
The `Eid Prayer is waajib (obligatory) according to the majority of scholars. The Prophet (saws) performed it consistently and commanded all the people to go out for it.
He (saws) even specifically commanded all of the women to attend; Umm `Atiyyah (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saws) commanded:
Let the free women, the virgins, and the menstruating women go out to attend the `Eid prayer, and witness the good and the supplications of the believers. As for the menstruating women, they should stay away from the musallaa. (i.e., should not participate in the prayer itself).
Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (r) said:
“… Thus we lean towards the opinion that Salaat ul-`Eid is fard `Ayn (individual obligation) on each individual. This is the opinion of Abu Haneefah and others, and is one of the two reported opinions of ash-Shaafi`ee and of the school of Ahmad.
The opinion held by some people, that it is not waajib, it is extremely unlikely, because it is one of the greatest rites of Islam; more people gather for it than for Friday; and the Takbeer has been legislated for its sake. The opinion of those who say that it is fard kifaayah (communal obligation) is unjustified …”
Ash-Shawkaanee (r) said:
“Note that the Prophet (saws) consistently performed this prayer on every `Eid, never neglecting it. He commanded the people to go out for it; he even commanded the free women, the virgins, and the menstruating women to go out, instructing the latter to refrain from praying, in order for all of them to witness this good and the Muslims’ supplications. He (saws) further commanded the woman who did not own a jilbaab (outer overall garment for women) to borrow her friend’s.[4 ]
All of this proves that this prayer is waajib on every individual, not only a kifayah obligation. Commanding the people to go out for it entails the command to perform the prayer (for those who have no excuse). This is the content of his (saws) address, because going out is a means for performing the prayer (an end); if the means is obligatory, then the end is. And this obligation applies to men even more so that women. A further evidence is that it overrides the Friday prayer when both occur on the same day. That which is not waajib cannot override that which is.
Furthermore, it is confirmed that the Prophet ((saws)) performed it consistently in Jamaa`ah (congregation) from the time that it was legislated until he died. To this is added his command to people to go out for it.”
Commenting on the hadeeth of Umm `Atiyyah, our shaykh al-Albaanee states:
“The Prophet’s (saws) command mentioned here indicates obligation; when it is waajib to go out for it, it is waajib to pray it, because of its higher priority. Thus the truth is that it is an obligation – not a mere recommendation.”
The Time of the Eid Prayer
No Prayer before or after the `Eid Prayer
No sunnah prayer may precede or follow the `Eid prayer – except if it is performed in a masjid instead of the musallaa, in which case one must pray two Rak`aat before sitting down. Ibn `Abbaas (t) narrated:
“The Prophet (saws) went out (of his house) on the day of Fitr, prayed two Rak`aat, and did not pray before or after it.”
Ibn ul-Qayyim said:
“Neither he (saws) nor his companions prayed when they arrived at the musallaa – before the prayer or after it.”
And Ibn Hajar said: “… In short, there is no confirmed sunnah prayer before or after the `Eid prayer – contrary to those who compare it to the Jumu`ah prayer.”  But it is confirmed from Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree that:
“The Prophet (saws) would not pray at all before the `Eid prayer; but when he returned to his house, he prayed.”
Al-Albaanee commented on this:
“So the negation of praying before and after the `Eid prayer refers only to praying at the musallaa.”
Time of the `Eid Prayer
`Abdullaah Bin Busr (ra) went out with some people to pray on a Fitr or Adha morning. He expressed his disapproval of the imaam’s delay of the prayer beyond the time of tasbeeh, and said:
“We (at the time of the Prophet (saws)) used to be finished with the prayer by now.”
This is the most authentic report regarding this issue. There are other reports, but are not confirmed in terms of their chains of narrators. Ibn ul-Qayyim said:
“The Prophet (saws) delayed the prayer of `Eid ul-Fitr, and was prompt with that of al-Adha. And Ibn `Umar, despite his extreme adherence to the Sunnah, would not go out until the sun had risen.”
Siddeeq Hasan Khaan said:
“The time of the two `Eid prayers is after the sun has reached the height of a spear, and until noon. The consensus of the scholars about this is in agreement with the (related) hadeeths – despite their weakness.”
Abu Bakr al-Jazaa’iree said:
“The time of the two Eid’s prayers is after the sun has reached the height of a spear, and until noon. However, it is best to pray al-Adh at the earliest time, to enable the people to slaughter their sacrifices; and is recommended to delay al-Fitr prayer, to enable the people to give out their Sadaqah (zakaat ul-Fitr).”
Late Report of Crescent Sighting
If the day of `Eid is not determined until late in the day (past the time of the `Eid prayer), then the `Eid prayer is held the next day. Abu `Umayr Bin Anas reported that some of his uncles, who were from the Ansaar, and who were companions of the Prophet (saws), told him:
“The crescent of Shawwaal was obscure to us. So we continued to fast that morning; later in the day, a group of travellers arrived and testified before Allaah’s Messenger (saws) that they had seen the hilaal (crescent) the previous day; so he (saws) commanded the people to break their fast on that day, and to go out to the musallaa the following morning.”
No Athaan or Iqaamah
The `Eid prayer is not preceded with Athaan or Iqaamah. Jaabir Bin Samurah (t) reported:
“I prayed the `Eid prayer with Allaah’s Messenger (saws), on more than one occasion, without Athaan or Iqaamah.”
Ibn `Abbaas and Jaabir (ra) said:
“Athaan was never given (for the `Eid prayer) on the day of Fitr, nor the day of Adha.”
Ibn ul-Qayyim said (r):
“He (saws) would arrive at the musallaa and start the prayer without Athaan, Iqaamah, or announcing, ‘Congregate for prayer’. The Sunnah is not to do any of that.”
Al-San`aanee (r) commented on the above reports:
“This provides evidence that it is not permissible to do that (announcing) for the `Eid prayer. So, doing it is a bid`ah (innovation).” 
Description of the Eid Prayer
Number of Rak`aat
The `Eid prayer consists of two Rak`aat (full prayer units). `Umar (ra) reported:
“The travelers’ prayer is two Rak`aat; the Adha prayer is two Rak`aat; the Fitr prayer is two Rak`aat; and the Jumu`ah prayer is two Rak`aat; this is their full length as came upon the tongue of Muhammad (saws).”
a. Like any other deed in Islaam, the prayer must be preceded with the true intention. The intention should be present in the heart before starting the prayer.
b. Like any other prayer, the first rak`ah (one prayer unit) must be started with Takbeer ul-ihraam; this is followed by the opening supplication.
a. The opening supplication is followed by seven Takbeers in the first rak`ah. Likewise, the Takbeer when rising to the second rak`ah is followed by five more Takbeers. `Aa’ishah (ra) said:
“Allaah’s Messenger (saws) would say Takbeer in both Fitr and Adha: seven in the first, and five in the second – other than the two Takbeers of rukuu` (bowing).”
Imaam al-Baghawee commented:
“This is the opinion of most of the people of knowledge among the Companions and those after them: to say, before reciting Qur’aan, in the first rak`ah of the `Eid prayer, seven Takbeers other than the opening Takbeer, and in the second, five Takbeers other than the Takbeer of rising. This has been reported from Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Alee , and others.”[ 29]
b. The Sunnah is to say the Takbeers before the recitation, as in the hadeeth of `Amr Bin Shu`ayb, from his father, from his grandfather (Ibn `Umar ra), who said:
“In the `Eid prayer, Allaah’s Messenger (saws) said seven Takbeers in the first rak`ah, recited (Qur’aan), said the Takbeer and bowed, prostrated himself; then he stood, said five Takbeers, recited, said Takbeer, bowed, and prostrated.”
Ibn ul-Qayyim commented that anything contrary to this is not true.
c. There are no authentic reports describing whether or not the Prophet (saws) raised his hands with these additional Takbeers. For this reason, al-Albaanee states:
“The reports from `Umar and his son do not make this a sunnah. Especially when we know that these reports are not authentic. As for the one from `Umar, it is recorded by al-Bayhaqee with a weak chain. As for his son’s, I have not been able to locate it now.”
However, based on various general hadeeths that report the raising of the hands with Takbeer in the regular prayers, some scholars allow raising the hands with these additional Takbeers. In this regard, Ibn ul-Qayyim said:
“Ibn `Umar, who is known to adhere closely to the Sunnah, used to raise his hands with every one of the Takbeers.”
And al-Albaanee commented on a similar issue:
“One may raise his hands if he believes that Ibn `Umar would not do this without an approval from the Prophet (saws) .”
d. There are no authentic reports indicating that the people would raise their voice with Takbeer when praying behind the imaam. The Sunnah is to say all thikr secretly, except in specific cases where the contrary was confirmed. This is enforced further in situations where raising the voice would disturb other people’s prayer. Therefore, it is not permissible for anyone other than the imaam to raise the voice with Takbeer in the prayer.
e. There is no thikr (mention of Allaah (SWT)) confirmed from the Prophet (saws) between the `Eid Takbeers. But it is reported that Ibn Mas`ood (ra) said:
“Between every two Takbeers is a praise of Allaah and a salaah upon the Prophet (saws).”
Ibn ul-Qayyim (r) said:
“The Prophet (saws) used to remain silent between every two Takbeers, and nothing is reported from him regarding thikr between them.”
f. The Takbeer is a sunnah (recommended act). Leaving it, whether intentionally or forgetfully, does not invalidate the prayer. There is no difference of opinion on this among the scholars38. However, there is no doubt that anyone who neglects it intentionally would be violating the sunnah of the Prophet (saws).
a. After the Takbeers, one should utter ta`awwuth and basmalah.
b. This is followed by reciting al-Faatihah, which is a required pillar in every rak`ah of every prayer.
c. This is followed by reciting Soorat Qaaf (50) in the first rak`at, and Soorat ul-Qamar (54) in the second.
Alternatively, one may recite: Surat ul-A`laa (87) in the first, and Soorat ul-Ghaasheeyah (88) in the second. Ibn ul-Qayyim (r) said:
“Both of these have been authentically reported from the action of the Prophet (saws). Nothing else is authentic.”
There is surely wisdom in reciting these particular soorahs in Eid. Some of this has been discussed by scholars like an-Nawawee and ash-Shawkaanee.
The Remainder Of The Prayer
The remainder of the `Eid prayer is performed in the same manner as any other prayer, without any difference.
Missing The `Eid Prayer
If one misses the `Eid prayer in Jamaa`ah, he must pray two Rak`aat. Imaam al-Bukhaaree (r) headed a section as, “Section: One Who Misses the `Eid Prayer Should Pray Two Rak`aat.”And he added that `Ataa’ (r) said:
“When one misses the `Eid prayer, he prays two Rak`aat.”
Al-Haafiz Bin Hajar commented on this:
“In this title are two important points:
a. The permission to make up the `Eid prayer for the one who misses praying it with the Jamaa`ah – whether that happened by compulsion or choice.
b. That it is made-up as two Rak`aat.” Waliyyullaah ad-Dahlawee (r) said:
“This is the opinion of ash-Shaafi`ee – that if one misses the prayer with the imaam, he should pray two Rak`aat in order to at least attain the virtue of performing the `Eid prayer, despite the fact that he missed the virtue of praying it in Jamaa`ah with the imaam.
As for the Hanafees, there is no make-up for the `Eid prayer. If one misses it with the imaam, he has totally missed it.”
Imaam Maalik (r) said:
“In my opinion, anyone who prays the `Eid prayer individually, whether man or woman, should say seven Takbeers in the first rak`ah, before recitation, and five in the second, before recitation.”
And Ibn Qudaamah (r) said:
“The one who comes late to the `Eid prayer should perform what he missed according to the way that he missed it. This is true for any prayer.”
The Eid Khutbah
The sunnah for the khutbah (speech) is to follow the `Eid prayer. Ibn `Abbaas (ra) said:
“I attended the `Eid with Allaah’s Messenger (saws), Abu Bakr, `Umar, and `Uthman (ra); all of them would pray before the khutbah.”
Ibn `Umar (ra) said:
“The Prophet (saws), Abu Bakr, and `Umar prayed the `Eid (prayers) before the khutbah.”
Al-Bukhaaree headed these hadeeths with the title, “The Chapter on Holding the khutbah after the `Eid Prayer.” Waliyyullaah ad-Dahlawee commented on this by saying:
“He means that this (performing the prayer before the khutbah) was the sunnah of Allaah’s Messenger (saws), and the practice of the Righteous Khulafaa’ (Successors, ra) after him. The change that came later (switching the khutbah and the prayer) is an innovation done by Marwaan.” 
This is stated clearly by Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree (ra) who said:
“On the day of al-Fitr and al-Adha, the Prophet (saws) used to go out (from his house) to the musallaa, and the first thing that he did was perform the prayer. Then he turned around and stood facing the people, while they were sitting in their rows. He admonished, advised, and commanded them.
After that, if he wished to send an expedition, or give some orders, he would do so; then he would depart.
The people followed this tradition until I went out with Marwaan, when he was the ameer (ruler) of al-Madeenah, for the prayer of `Eid ul-Adha or `Eid ul-Fitr. When he reached the musallaa, I found a minbar (raised steps to address people from), which was built by Katheer Bin as-Salt. Marwaan started to mount the minbar before the prayer. I grabbed his shirt, but he yanked it back, ascended the minbar, and delivered the khutbah before the prayer. I said to him, ‘By Allaah, you have changed (the sunnah).’ He replied, ‘O Abu Sa`eed, that which you know is gone!’ I said, ‘By Allaah, that which I know is better than that which I do not.’ So he explained, ‘People would not sit to listen when it was after the prayer, so I made it before it.’ “
Imaam at-Tirmithee (r) commented:
“This is the acceptable practice among the people of knowledge among the Prophet’s (saws) companions and others: that the `Eid prayer should precede the khutbah. It is reported that the first one to offer the khutbah before the prayer was Marwaan Bin al-Hakam.”
Takbeer At The Beginning Of The Khutbah?
Some imaams start this khutbah with Takbeer. This does not have any basis in the Sunnah. There is a weak hadeeth that some people use as their evidence. Al-Albaanee said in this regard:
“The hadeeth reported from Sa`d ul-Qarz that, “The Prophet (saws) would say Takbeer often during his khutbah, and he said it more often during the `Eid khutbahs.” – is a weak hadeeth. Besides, it does not indicate starting the khutbah with Takbeer, but only that he used to say it frequently during it.”
Thus, this khutbah, like any other one, should be started with praising and glorifying Allaah (SWT). Ibn ul-Qayyim (r) said:
“Allaah’s Messenger (saws) used to begin all of his khutbahs with al-hamdu lillaah. Not even one authentic hadeeth indicates that he started the Eid’s khutbah with Takbeer.”
One Or Two Khutbahs?
There is no authentic hadeeth indicating that the `Eid khutbah is to be divided into two parts separated with a sitting (as for Jumu`ah). The only report in this regard is very weak.
Thus, the khutbah should be kept as one unit, which is consistent with the original understanding and practice.
Standing On A Minbar?
It is not permissible to bring out a minbar to the musallaa or to build a fixed one. This follows from the above mentioned hadeeth of Abu Sa`eed (ra) where he said, “… Then he (saws) turned around and stood facing the people, while they were sitting in their rows. He admonished, advised, and commanded them,”which makes it clear that he did not mount a minbar. Also, he (ra) said to Marwaan, “By Allaah, you have changed (the Sunnah).” His objection here refers to two things: building the minbar, and delivering the khutbah before the prayer.
Also, Jaabir Bin `Abdillaah (ra) reported:
“I witnessed with Allaah’s Messenger (saws) the prayer on a `Eid day. He started with the prayer, before the khutbah, without Athaan or Iqaamah. Then he stood, leaning on Bilaal, and commanded people to fear Allaah (SWT) …”
This clearly indicates that he was not standing on a minbar during the khutbah.
Listening To The Khutbah
Attending the khutbah is not waajib, as is the case for attending the prayer. `Abdullaah Bin as-Saa’ib reported that he attended the `Eid with the Prophet (saws); and when he (saws) finished the prayer, he said:
We shall have a khutbah; so let whoever wishes to sit for the khutbah do so, and whoever wishes to leave leave.
Ibn ul-Qayyim commented:
“He (saws) gave choice for those who attended the `Eid to either sit for the khutbah or leave.”
When the `Eid Falls on a Friday
If the `Eid occurs on a Friday, it becomes optional for men to attend the Jumu`ah prayer. Abu Hurayrah (t) reported that, on such occurrence, Allaah’s Messenger (saws) said:
Two `Eeds have coincided on this day of yours; thus, whoever wishes is exempted from attending the Jumu`ah prayer. Yet, we shall hold it.
And Iyaas Bin Abee Ramlah ash-Shaamee said:
“I witnessed Mu`aawiyah Bin Abee Sufyaan asking Zayd Bin Arqam, ‘Were you with Allaah’s Messenger (saws) when one of the `Eeds and Friday occurred on the same day?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He asked, ‘What did he do?’ He answered, ‘He (saws) performed the `Eid prayer, then gave the option concerning Jumu`ah, saying, Let whoever wishes to pray it do so. “
This is the way of the companions (ra). For example, it is reported that on such occasion `Alee (ra) said:
“Let the one who wishes to come for Jumu`ah do so, and the one who wishes to sit do so.”
A similar report is recorded by al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh regarding `Uthmaan (ra). It is also reported that `Abdullaah Bin az-Zubayr (ra) said:
“These are two `Eeds that have come together on one day. Their coincidence makes them one (`Eid).”
Then he prayed on that Friday two rak`aat in the morning as `Eid ul-Fitr prayer, and did not pray anymore until he prayed the `Asr prayer.
Ash-Shawkaanee (r) commented on this report:
“The apparent understanding from this is that he did not pray zuhr. And that if the Jumu`ah prayer is cancelled for any acceptable reason, then the one for whom it was cancelled is not required to pray zuhr. This is the opinion of `Ataa’ …”
Referring to the above reports and other similar ones from `Umar and Ibn `Abbaas (ra), Ibn Taymiyyah (r) concluded:
“The scholars have three different opinions (in this regard):
1. That one is still obliged to pray the Jumu`ah – whether or not he prayed the `Eid. This is the opinion of Maalik and others.
2. That the Jumu`ah becomes optional for the people of the suburbs and villages. This was practiced by `Uthmaan (ra), and ash-Shaafi`ee (r) took up this opinion.
3. That the Jumu`ah becomes optional for whomever prayed the `Eid. However, the imaam is required to establish the Jumu`ah, so that those who wish to attend it can do so …;
This is what has been authentically reported from Allaah’s Messenger (saws) and his successors and Sahaabah (ra), and is the opinion of the later scholars who learned of these reports, such as Imaam Amad. Those who disagreed with him did not learn about these hadeeths and reports.”