As the holy month of Ramadan nears its end, Muslims all around the world are anxiously waiting for Eid-ul-Fitr. Originally translated from Arabic as “the festival of breaking fast” is one of the most significant religious events of the Muslim calendar. Observed the day after the last fast, Eid-ul-Fitr brings with itself bundles of feasts, family get-togethers and an opportunity for the cleaning of the soul.
When is Eid-ul-Fitr 2019?
Professor Shahid Qureshi (Planetary Astrophysics Director, University of Karachi) claims that on June 4th, Shawal moon will be visible. If that is true Eid-ul-Fitr will likely fall on 5th June, Wednesday. With Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as official Eid leave followed by weekend leaves. This Eid will surely be a “Meethi Eid” for Pakistanis.
What is Eid-ul-Fitr and it’s significance
Eid-ul-Fitr is one of the two Eids celebrated by Muslims. Celebrated on the first of Shawal, Eid-ul-Fitr is believed to have been initiated by none other than the Holy Prophet PBUH in Medina. It marks the end of the Ramadan and the beginning of Shawal.
How is Eid-ul-Fitr celebrated?
Ramadan being the highlight and Eid-ul-Fitr being the reward has many social aspects. The month of Ramadan instills amongst the financially stable individuals of the society to give towards the poor. And understand their hardships. For this purpose specifically, Muslims are asked to pay Zakat and help the needy and the underprivileged. Spiritually, it enlightens the Muslims to thank Allah for their blessings and restrict themselves from their uncanny worldly desires.
Eid-ul-Fitr also known locally as “Choti Eid” is the most anticipated occasion for Muslims. People buy new clothes, especially for the occasion. Women wear henna and buy jewelry items matching with their outfits. Eid-ul-Fitr is generally celebrated on the day after the moon is observed (after sunset) on the last fasting day of Ramadan. And is celebrated for 3 days officially recognized by the government. During this 3-day period, schools and offices are officially closed. If the moon is not spotted or is invisible, it is celebrated the next day. When Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated depends upon the sighting of the moon and is often celebrated on different days depending upon the locality.
Nonetheless, Eid-ul-Fitr is gratified by a specific prayer. For which no sermon is given. The timings of the prayer are announced once the moon has been sighted. Eid-ul-Fitr prayer consists of six Takbirs. And prayer is made for Allah’s forgiveness and mercy and for the betterment of all souls. The prayer is followed by Muslims hugging each other and wishing “Eid Mubarak”, sending sweets to one another and meeting their loved ones. As well as gifts called Eidi are given to young children and relatives. Zakat is an essential part of Islamic society.
The controversy of spotting the new moon
Today, we live in a smart era, surrounded by cutting edge technology. One might wonder how come, with such technology available, Eid-ul-Fitr cannot be celebrated on the same day across the world?
Muslim groups across the world use the following four ways to spot the new moon;
- Physically sighting the moon with the naked eye.
- Celebrating Eid on the same day as Makkah
- Calculating birth of the new moon (if invisible to the naked eye)
- Calculating the actual new moon sighting in ideal conditions.
Since Eid-ul-Fitr depends upon the sighting of the new moon. Muslims across the world use different techniques to spot the new moon. If the moon is not observed, Eid can be delayed. Moreover, a cloudy condition can also delay Eid. In the West, the birth of the new moon is calculated and the speculation is not left merely on the observance by the naked eye. This means that clouds or other weather conditions have no effect on the birth of the new moon. While in some parts of the word, Muslims rely upon many conventional techniques such as physical observance of the moon. This stirs quite a controversy when it comes to predicting Eid-ul-Fitr. Muslims on one side of the world could be celebrating eid one day ahead than the Muslims celebrating Eid on the other side.
Complexities of observing the new moon
Observing the new moon is far more complex than just the technique used. For the new moon to be visible, the following conditions must be met.
- Moon’s must be 20 hours,
- Moonset occurs after 40 min of sunset.
- Angulation is 10 degrees.
Generally, even if any two conditions are met, the moon is thought to be visible. For Astronomers, a new moon is an invisible dark sphere. The Crescent that marks the start of Shawal as mentioned in Quran appears within 17 to 23 hours of the dark sphere moon. Which is then visible on Earth. So even if the moon is born on one day, the Crescent that marks the beginning of Shawal may not be visible until the next day. And if the weather conditions are not right, even this Crescent cannot be viewed by the naked eye.
The best way to cope up with this controversy is to have a standard technique that must be applied to spot the new moon globally.