Hey, I believe you know what convocation means. Yes, it is what you are thinking it is. An academic assembly where the business of the university is transacted? Yep, it’s just that. However, for us undergraduates, maybe at my alma mater though, it is a congregation of people in an open field or a large hall where students of knowledge who have successfully completed their course in the institution are celebrated.
Have you read the recent article on ‘The Ramadan Project’? If no, you can still get the full gist here. Ramadan was regarded to as a degree-awarding institution where the spiritual training (of fasting) takes place. And just like other institution does, there is a day (convocation day) set aside by the school of Ramadan for successful fasting souls to celebrate. This day is the Eid Al-Fitr day.
Hurray! With gratitude to Allah, we have successfully finished our 29 days spiritual training in the school of Ramadan. Alhamdulillah, we are now qualified for a degree to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr (the prayer and holiday at the end of the Holy Month). All praise is due to Allah – the One who overwhelms in His supremacy – for sustaining us till this moment.
On convocation day(s), members of the institution assemble in an open field or a large hall designated for the purpose. In the same scope, members of the Muslim community (male, female young and old, ) are expected to converge at an open field to offer two rakats (units) of prayer on Eid day.
Prior to the convocation day(s), every institution usually takes it upon herself to send to all graduating students (and the entire institution community in some cases) a memo containing codes of conduct on the convocation ground. Similarly, the Eid prayer also has it stipulated requirements (think etiquettes or codes of conduct) that all Muslims must abide by. These proprieties are highlighted below (please, note that the list is not itself exhaustive):
- Doing ghusl (ritual bath) before going out to the prayer. Although this is considered Mustahab ( highly recommended), a sahih hadith has it that Ibn Umar used to do ghusl on the day of Al-Fitr before going out to the prayer place in the morning.
- Adorning oneself with the best of clothing on the occasion.
- Eating before going out to pray. This could be eating something as little as an odd number of date fruit. It should be noted that eating is also considered mustahab as it only serves to emphasize the fact that it is forbidden to fast on Eid day.
- Offering congratulatory messages. This act is a very common one amidst the companions of the Prophet. It is part of the etiquettes of Eid to spread congratulations and good wishes from among the permissible expressions of congratulations. The companions of the Prophet were reported by Jubayr Ibn Nufayr to be acquainted with the saying (greeting) ‘May Allah accept (good deeds) from us and from you’ when they met one other on Eid day.
- Going to and returning from prayer by different route. Jaabir Ibn Abdallah once said that on the day of Eid, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to vary his pathway.
Finally, violating the memorandum sent to students by the institution might attract certain penalty. Take for example, a graduating student may be denied entry into the convocation hall if he or she was not dressed on the convocation dress. Likewise, in order for us to fully attain the reward of Eid, we as well must try as much as possible to abide by its etiquettes. Taqabala Llahu minna wa minkum (may Allah accept the good deeds from us and from you).