UAE | General

When is Eid? Time has come to end confusion

Call to use modern technology for moon sighting for events like Ramadan and Eid

  • By Duraid Al Baik, UAE Editor
  • Published: 18:19 August 6, 2013
  • Gulf News

Dubai: Every year Muslims wait patiently for a committee to sight the moon for Eid to be declared. And most often there is confusion. Now religious scholars say the traditional ways of moon-sighting must be stopped and scientific methods adopted. The new moon will be detected with pin-point precision with the aid of modern technology.

This year the confusion has come a bit earlier – on Ramadan 28. The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia decided to meet yesterday evening to decide whether Eid would be today. As you read this the confusion may be sorted out, but if Eid has not been declared, you will have to brace yourself for another round of suspense. Will Eid be on Thursday or Friday?

The question religious scholars ask is why do Muslims put themselves through this confusion every year. Science and technology can detect the birth of the new moon.

Dr Ahmad Al Qubaisi, an expert on Islamic Sharia, told Gulf News that he has been calling upon the Muslim world to adopt scientific methods instead of depending on a committee to sight the moon. The committee faces a tough task which is made even more difficult if conditions are cloudy or hazy.

“We need to implement the achievements of science and perform our rituals. Development has been achieved by humanity. I have been calling for an end to this confusion – first at the start of Ramadan and then the declaration of Eids for years, but I admit that I have not succeeded,” he said.

“The Islamic Sharia encourages us to implement science in our lives whenever possible. Those who refuse to implement the spirit of Sharia and stick to the words of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) are not helping in unifying the celebrations of Muslims around the world.

“I understand the reason behind some refusing to adopt scientific methods. Muslims have great love and respect for Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) sayings which they call Sunna. Prophet Mohammad said: ‘You [Muslims] have to fast when you see the moon of Ramadan and end your fast when you see the moon of the following month or complete fasting for 30 days if you cannot see the moon.’ Those who believe in implementing what the Prophet ordered as a way of showing their respect and love for him will stick to moon sighting. The rest who prefer to use logic will adopt scientific calculations,” Dr Al Qubaisi said.

Dr Ahmad Bin Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, Grand Mufti and Director of the Fatwa Department in Dubai, said this year, the beginning of the fast was based on the fact that the Ramadan crescent was not a confirmed sighting. Hence, Muslims completed 30 days of Sha’baan according to the instructions of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said as narrated by Ibn Omar (a companion of the Prophet): “The month [can be] 29 nights [ie days], and do not fast till you see the moon, and if the sky is overcast, then complete Sha’baan as 30 days.”

The Prophet said, as narrated by Abu Huraira (another companion of the Prophet), “Start fasting on seeing the crescent [of Ramadan], and give up fasting on seeing the crescent [of Shawwal], and if the sky is overcast [and you cannot see it], complete 30 days of Sha’baan.”

He said instilling doubts in people’s minds on whether the fast had begun on the correct day was not necessary because the decision was made based on Sunnah and consensus of the Ummah (nation). Most Muslims began their fast on the same day this year. Dr Al Haddad was referring to Saudi Arabia’s decision to sight the moon yesterday, which meant that the fast had begun one day late.

He said the moon-sighting should not take place on Tuesday considering that Ramadan would not have been completed. Ramadan has to be a minimum of 29 days.

He said if it is possible to sight the Shawwal crescent on Tuesday night, then every Muslim will have to fast a day after Eid in compensation, because the month would have only completed 28 days. Today, Wednesday, will be Ramadan 29, not Ramadan 30 as published by some sections of the media.

“This error was not intentional. The day which Muslims began their fast was correct,” Dr Al Haddad stressed.

Comments (44)

  1. Added 18:11 August 7, 2013

    I don't think there's any confusion at all with the current system with regards to Eid. People who fast during ramadan are satisfied with the fact that we follow the teachings of prophet to welcome Eid. Right now the confusion is with non-believers who want to plan the holidays in advance to make merry.

    Rafi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 17:36 August 7, 2013

    May ALLAH S.W.T save us all. We are all bordering on insanity Astaghfirullah. There was a suggestion that we should alter our thinking because of the difference in era between us and the Nabi. Let me ask you one thing. If ALLAH says that the words spoken by the NABI is from him then are you suggesting that ALLAH made a mistake and was excluding us from the Revelations? ALLAH Forgive us this is insane. We should refrain from such thoughts and speech and make Istighfaar so ALLAH can have mercy on us a nd Bless through these Final hours of Ramadhaan. Please brothers Remember the words " ALL Muslims are brothers to one another " ALLAH Bless you all and May you have a blessed EID.

    Mohammad, Johannesburg, South Africa

  3. Added 17:03 August 7, 2013

    When speaking about the Hadees, our Holy Prophet (pbuh) said it with a pre-amble. "We are an unlettered or illiterate community which does not write or do calculations, therefore fast when you sight it, and end your fasting when you sight it. Should you be prevented sighting it by clouds, then complete the month (to 30 days)". This is an authentic Hadith. but it starts with a preamble which says "We are an unlettered community". The Prophet (pbuh) has given us a method to find out the beginnings of new moon which does not rely on calculations, in order to meet the need in a certain condition, when Muslim community had not acquired much knowledge. But this characteristic was not meant to be permanent. In a different version, the Prophet (pbuh) instructs us in the case of an overcast sky to make and enlightened estimation. This is the criterion which is simple and applicable in all situations. This is the criterion which is simple and applicable in all situations. It is clear that the sighting of the moon is intended only as a mark which is available to all people, in all ages, regardless of their standard of learning or advancement. There is no special virtue given to the new moon, or to its sighting. It is only a convenient marking. When Muslims were un-educated and had little learning, they had to rely on the actual sighting with the naked eye. Hence the need for a back-up measure in the case of an overcast sky. If we consider the Hadith carefully, we do not find anything that gives any virtue to the state of 'unlettered community' or any wish to make it permanent. Nor does it give the sighting with the naked eye any sanctity to make it applicable in all situations, regardless of the availability of more accurate methods. The latter is considered as a 'probable' evidence, while the calculation according to the rules of astronomy is a 'firm' evidence. That is the procedure we Muslims should adopt. Because we refuse to adopt this accurate method, we remain immersed in disputes over something which should be very easy to deal with and settle. This is a sad state of affairs, and we hope that our top scholars will find a way to agree on formula to bring all such disputes to an end. It is their duty to do so. Islam is a religion which unites, and does not cause divisions. It is Muslims who have been causing such divisions. In fact Islam has done everything possible to change that situation and in a few decades, the Islamic capital was the main centre of learning in the world. Mathematicians of renown appeared in the Muslim world. We cannot just ignore the fact and continue to rely solely on the method which was meant to remedy a certain defect when the defect is no longer with us. May Almighty God guide us all to settle these differences without problems and difficulties.

    Ahmed Sha, Weligama, Sri Lanka

  4. Added 16:36 August 7, 2013

    Dear natural environment is the best and in some cases we don't want modern technology. this started like this and INSHALLAH will end like this

    HAJI YASIR, MARDAN, Pakistan

  5. Added 16:17 August 7, 2013

    Tomorrow some is going to suggest we (the entire home/Planet) need to have a unified time to start and end the fasting so that all the people across world feels unified and one.Will YOU agree. i hope i made my point clear.

    Mohamed Sahir, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 16:09 August 7, 2013

    29 or 30 days is not an issue. We all love the month of Ramadan, and most who truly follow Islam would love if it were 60 days, 90 days even. So many people within our Ummah rush back to lives filled with haram once Eid arrives. Ramadan is a relief to us to see the masjid filled during prayer. Seeing people feeding the less fortunate, and LIVING the way we should every month of the year. May Allah forgive us. As far as technology goes, and those who are against it, ask yourselves. Do u watch tv? Do you listen to Quran on the radio? Mp3? Simple things that our Prophet never did. Why? Because he couldn't. Doesn't mean that because our technology has evolved that its wrong because he didn't do it. Our Ummah has better things to worry about. It's not a big mystery. We can google right now when the next Ramadan will start and end, and it will be within a day or two. So what? Use the technology that Allah(swt) has blessed us with. If not, then stop using anesthesia when u go to the dentist. Don't get X-rays. Don't visit an obstetrician when u get pregnant. Do everything the way our blessed prophet (saw) did if u are truly going to follow his example. Computers? Really? How are you even reading this? And you better not be driving to work when you can walk or ride a camel. Haram, sah?

    Jalal, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 15:52 August 7, 2013

    I find it ridiculous that in the year 2013 we are all waiting for a bunch of people to tell us where the moon is - to see if we can have a holiday or not??? This is a completely backward way of living in modern times when science can tell us. The whole scenario is completely insane.

    Peg, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 15:26 August 7, 2013

    The confusion comes because of some people would like to imitate non-Muslims as the Non-Muslim celebrations are fixed or can be known beforehand. These people don't realise that Islam differ in many ways from other religions and our Prophet (PBUH) said not to imitate non-Muslims. Media says that "scholars say". We should ask which scholar? Majority of Muslims are OK with the checking the moon on the twenty-ninth day. We do not need to know beforehand and we do not need to follow others other than our beloved Prophet (PBUH). I think this is a trick by some and the media to use calculation instead of the prophet's (PBUH) way.

    Irshad Anver, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 15:06 August 7, 2013

    Yes the Prophet and the Quran had mentioned to follow the moon, but that was applicable for the day and age where technology wasn't available. But not God nor the Prophet said not to allow science or technology to help us conduct our lives and unite us all together. What the Dr. is saying is basically to use scientific solutions that will help everyone determine the exact changes in moon. We will still be following the moon, but we would be doing it more accurately with no room for confusion. I think Muslims should finally realize that times are changing and evolving and that what was said 2000 years ago was applicable for what was available then and there. As long as we don't drift away from the teachings of Islam, we can find better, modern ways to fulfill those teachings. Eid Mubarak to all.

    Maldaland, Dubai, Slovakia (Slovak Republic)

  10. Added 14:22 August 7, 2013

    Science is never in conflict with Islam. So I am all for adapting science for moon sightings instead of the conventional ineffective methods.

    Ahmed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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