So, I predicted at the beginning of this month that Saudi will announce Eid al-Fitr as Wednesday 6th July and therefore completing 30 fasts for Ramadan (for those who started on a Monday).
For once, it completely aligns with astronomical data regarding the visibility of the new moon (hilaal). Today, Monday 4th July, it will not be possible to sight the new moon from any of the Islamic countries in the Middle East, north Africa or Asian sub-continent. So you will be completing 30 fasts and Eid al-Fitr will be on Wed 6th July for you
Please see tomorrows (evening of Tuesday 5th July) chart below, it shows clear new moon visibility in much of the Middle East, northern Africa, parts India, south east Asia and the whole Americas. If you started on a Tuesday in any of these regions, you will complete 29 fasts only and do Eid al-Fitr on Wed 6th July.
Now let’s talk about the UK, strictly speaking the chart above shows no local sighting is possible in much of Europe including the UK. No sighting at all. Therefore depending on how your local mosque or community make the decision the following might apply.
1. If based on sighting from NEAREST Muslim country (any North African country), your Eid al-Fitr is Wed 6th July. Whether you started on Monday (30 fasts) or Tuesday (29 fasts)
2. If based on GLOBAL sighting, the same principle and date as 1 above applies
3. If based upon a LOCAL sighting then strictly speaking the new moon is NOT visible on Tuesday 5th July (but will be on Wed 6th July, see chart at end). This is where it gets interesting…IF you started on Monday then you will have completed 30 fasts on Tuesday 5th July and therefore MUST do Eid al-Fitr the next day. You simply cannot keep 31 fasts. Only for those who started Tuesday would Eid al-Fitr on Thursday 7th July be valid – to me this validates the position of local sighting and my previous blog post on the start of Ramadan 2016.
To summarise, both Wednesday 6th July and Thursday 7th July 2016 are valid dates for Eid al-Fitr in the UK, strictly speaking neither is wholly right or wholly wrong. What does matter is how you came to the decision and that you stick to this principle all the time.
The sticking matter of the unification of start of Ramadan and dates for Eid in the UK are primarily based upon the differing (yet valid in most cases) decision making mechanism that is used. Don’t expect all mosques & communities to agree and for there to be a unified date going forward – this is unlikely to happen. One of the issues is the Umm al-Qura calendar.
Good luck, God bless and Eid Mubarak where you are.
In a future post I will attempt to demystify the lunar cycle and hopefully increase people’s understanding of this issue.
OK, I’ve had plenty of banging my head on the wall time this week merely attempting to explain to people in Birmingham and the wider UK as to why Eid-al-Adha should be on Sunday 5th October 2014 and not Saturday 4th October 2014.
Let’s get one thing right from the beginning. The Saudis (inc Haji’s) are RIGHT to do Eid on Saturday 5th October 2014 (10th Dhul-Hijjah 1435) as the new crescent moon signifying the beginning of the month of Dhul-Hijjah WAS observable IN Saudi Arabia on the evening of Thursday September 25th 2014.
The chart below shows new moon visiblity for the Thursday September 25th, and the RED shading means the new moon would have been ‘EASILY VISIBLE to the NAKED EYE’ whereas the PEACH shading means observable only under PERFECT CONDITIONS. I’ve put a square around Saudi Arabia – clearly the new cresent moon WAS visible IN Saudi Arabia on Thursday September 25th. Count 10 days from 25th (include the 25th!) and you come to Saturday 4th October 2014.
Now look at the circle around the UK. No RED or PEACH shading, no shading of any kind means the new moon was NOT visible anywhere from the mainland UK on Thursday 25th September 2014.
Now let’s look at the chart for Friday 26th September 2014 below, and you will see RED everywhere including the UK. So if you base your judgement on local sighting (which to be honest and in my opinion you should do) then count 10 days from 26th September means the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah in the UK is Sunday 5th October 2014. Therefore Eid-al-Adha for the entirety of the UK was on SUNDAY (again my opinion, you can do whatever you want).
Please remember we are on a LUNAR cycle here, the Earth is round. Visibility for different days for different global regions is the norm.
If you imagine for just 1 minute that ALL and ANY global communications were disrupted, how would you decide the end of of Dhul-Qadah and beginning of Dhul-Hijjah? Yes, you would go outside and look for the new moon. If you don’t see it at all you would complete 30 days of Dhul-Qaddah and move on to the 1st of Dhul-Hijjah
Being out of sync is nothing new, during the early Islamic years a community just 100 miles from Makkah for example would end up doing Eid on different days. Why? Either because the person sighting the moon at either location missed it or mistook a different observation (e.g, a solar planet) for the new moon and announced the date for Eid accordingly. Due to it being impossible to send a message to & fro within a few days they were not able to corroborate their findings. Even with the 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah ‘gap’ it wasn’t always possible to get communications across the region in that time frame. Practically zero chance during the end of Ramadan(!)
To conclude, what does the Day of Eid-al-Adha have to do with the Day of Arafat? Nothing at all. A little bit of Islamic history, Eid-al-Adha existed well before (7 years before) Hajj became a pillar of Islam and before there was even a ‘Day of Arafat’. Oh for those of you who advocate Global Sighting – well, all I can say is that this is a recent innovation and was never the tradition (you won’t find it in any school of Fiqh). Ever. This by extension also applies to those who rely upon Saudi sightings of the new moon – for residents of the UK following them is Global Sighting. Geddit?
Why is an Islamic month not a specific set of days like in the western Gregorian calendar?
Islamic months may be 29 or 30 days in length, in some regular or irregular sequence. The simple answer is it’s because the Moon takes 29.5 days to orbit the Earth once! Actually it is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds to be exact!
How many ‘Months’ in an Islamic year?
12 months, same as the Gregorian. Most Muslims will be familiar with their names.
How many Days in an Islamic Year?
This is where it gets interesting, their are either 354 or 355 days in an Islamic Year (that 0.5 day can make a big difference!). So either 10 or 11 days shorter than the Gregorian 365 days (366 every leap year – now that makes it more interesting).