First, I would like to wish all Muslim readers, belated Eidul Fitri AL Mubarak, كل عام و انتم بخير (kullu aam wa antum bi khair; Wishing you blessed year ahead with all the goodness from Allah).
I would like to comment here about the Raya celebration in Malaysia, which in my view is quite “endemic”. I would recall my younger days in Kelantan, that our fathers used to celebrate Eid Al Fitr (Raya) only for a day or two at the most; then we would all be back to normal. In fact, most of the people would start fasting for six days, on the second day of Raya. However, now people celebrate Raya for almost a month of Shawwal. How this could happen and be?
Many would argue that it is nothing wrong to celebrate for such period of time; as Raya encourages us to meet friends and relatives – silatur rahim and it is something that is not prohibited in Islam (and some would say it might also be encouraged). On the same matter, I also found that most Ustaz are silent about it, or even encouraging such activities to be practiced.
I on the other hand, found that celebrating Raya for days beyond just a few days is outright wrong and should not be encouraged. It clearly falls under Makruh (something that is highly discouraged) and possibly Haram (something that is prohibited). The part that is Makruh, is due to something that is not practiced by our Prophet and Sahabah, as well as over the 1400 years of Islam, this is not practice of our Islamic scholars of the past, even until recent times (i.e. 50 years ago). On the Haram part is the wastage (mubazzir), excessive, display of pomp and many other acts that are clearly prohibited in Islam (such as dress, improper mingling between sexes, etc..etc.). These “extended” Raya celebrations encourages of all that. If these activities are deemed as part of the practice of Islam, then clearly they fall under the category of “Bid’ah” (new innovations in religion), and hence they would be deemed Haram as well. In short, I found much arguments against it than for it. The harm is more than the benefit.
However, it is quite surprising that I could not find much voices among the Ustazs who spoke clearly against this extended Raya celebrations. In fact many are also perpetuating it. Upholding the Sunnah is obligatory upon us, and to speak against wrong doings (munkar) is also our duty.
In summary, I personally would like to strongly discourage any of us to spend more than a few days of Raya (maximum 2 to 3 days); we spend more on the needy, the poor, and those who are unfortunate (i.e. the monies spent on Raya celebrations), and off course, avoid all those extravaganzas, wastage, and observe clear adherence to Islamic practices. Moderation is part of Islam, and here is a clear example of it. Anyway, in other parts of the Muslim world, they do not do what we do it here in Malaysia.