To Eid or not Eid, that is the question!

MoonCalc-Shawwal
Moon visibility curves for Friday, November 12, 2004. Definitely no moon in Saudi Arabia..

Eid Moon
The moon would have been visibile Saturday, 13 November..

As I child, I used to listen to the grown ups in our family argue endlessly about when the Eid Al Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan fasting) is supposed to start. Being based on a lunar calendar, Islamic months are more difficult to determine than the Gregorian months. These arguments are repeated in EXACTLY the same manner every year. The same clichés, the same points and counterpoints. It’s almost like the Groundhog Day movie (where the guy always wakes up on the same day).

Yesterday night the fiasco repeated itself again. Saudi Arabia declared that Eid was Saturday. My wife an I were walking downtown and went into a shop to buy a soft drink when we heard the Jordanian Mufti on a small black and white TV announcing that Eid in Jordan was Sunday. At home later in the evening, my father in-law called from Germany perplexed. Half of Germany ended up celebrating Eid Saturday and the half will celebrate tomorrow.

Just across the River Jordan, in Palestine Eid was celebrated Saturday. What a mess!

I have always been convinced that this is a matter where science can help. Of course, the religious authorities have a million opinions on utilizing science to determine the appearance of the moon. Waiting until they agree can take another century or so.

So to cut a long story short, I did my own Internet research on the matter. Here are the results (I wont go into the details of all the arguments, because, honestly, the whole thing just gets on my nerves):

1. Jordan’s announcement that Eid is on Sunday was correct. TheJordanian mufti said that the moon did not show up, which is in line withthe calculations. At the very least one can be confident that,scientifically, there is NO WAY someone saw the crescent in Saudi ArabiaFriday night. Go to Moonsighting.com and see for yourself. The site’s publishers use a software package called MoonCalc (programmed byUK-based Dr Monzur Ahmed) The new moon, although “born” Friday night, could not have been seen anywhere on earth (with the exception of a possibility of sighting in some Polynesian Islands!!).

2. Just for your general knowledge, a new moon can indeed be seen in one zone of the earth but not another. Remember we live on a rotating sphere. See the screenshots of MoonCalc and you’ll get a better idea aboutthe science of moonsighting.

OK. Now the interesting dilemma for observing Muslims is the following: Who’s announcement to follow. One side of the argument assumes that the “Muslim Nation” is one nation. And when the moon is sighted anywhere in the world by any Muslim, the whole Muslim nation should break the Ramadan fast. Well, that would be great. That would be the end of the endless arguments every year!

Just one note: no claim of a moonsighting should be accepted if it SCIENTIFACALLY IMPOSSIBLE. OK?
That would be the “ideal situation”. But the reality is that the “Muslim Nation” is, in fact, NOT one nation. On the contrary consists of many, many countries and Muslim communities in non-Islamic countries. If a Muslim in Jordan was to follow the announcement of Saudi Arabia that Eid was today, Saturday 13 November 2004, what was she or he to do? Go to Eid prayers alone? Or perhaps visit relatives expecting to be served Ma’mul? Or maybe go and have Eid lunch? HELLO?

I am sure the religious arguments about this issue can go on forever. The two solutions are clear: Either each country (and Muslim community) announces Eid on its own, or, by some miracle, All Islamic authorities agree on a common date (that at least does not contradict science).

Happy Eid everyone!


4 Responses to “To Eid or not Eid, that is the question!”

  1. Hamez Says:

    I apologize for being such a nuisance but I think what you were referring to by “Hedgehog day” is actually “Groundhog day”. Hehe, I aplogize again but
    I’m a perfectionist. I find your blog very interesting by the way. Happy Eid to you and good luck to yourself,family and firm :)

  2. Humeid Says:

    Hamez.. thanks fo the correction. Will fix it now :)

  3. Raja Says:

    Well Ahmed a great article on this controversial issue. Not you but most think the same way. In determining Eid one should first think that who should he follow the Quran & Sunnah or an Imam declaring not to do Eid with other Muslim brothers. If anyone would follow the Quran and the Sunnah he would never have any trouble deciding when the Eid should be. On the other hand when you leave Quran & Sunnah and start following communities & groups you end up in a situation like the one we are facing. If you want to understand the problem you have to go a little bit in history, before 25 years there was no such problem as having seperate Eids. Actually it all initiated from Pakistan. In Pakistan they have a committee called the Hilal Committee responsible for Moon Sighting. The members of this hilal commitee were pretty old and were never able to sight the moon. They had no technology at that time so they started to delay the Eid sometimes even upto 2 days and They refused to accept any Shahada on the siting. So in Pakistan people started to have 2 Eids People who saw the moon themselves would do Eid on one day and people who follow the Hilal committee’s declaration whould do even after two days. Now how this spread around the world? Well in India most of the Imams followed Eid & Ramadan according to Pakistan. So they ended up having two Eids there as well. Now all over the world if you see, mostly Pakistani & Indians are the ones who end up doing Eid at a later date. It is all due to lack of knowledge on Quran & Sunnah. Quran simply states that if one Momin Muslim Gives Shahada that he has seen the moon you accept it. Even in Ahadeeth you will find the same. And it is common sense that there is only one Lailat-ul-Qadr. What ever reason any person with some common sense would refuse to accept that the Mala-i-Kah would come two or three times in a city and will do that for every city in the world at different times. When allah said accept your Muslim brothers Shahada accept it don’t disobey Allah & his Messenger. Conclusion you mostly will find people celebrating Eid or Ramadan on later dates who are uneducated & confused in Islam & tend to follow only the Imam of the mosque they go to.

  4. Rizwan Khan Says:

    Great post, really like your thoughts on this subject. Unfortunately every year we end up having multiple Eids in most of the places

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