Aside Posted on Updated on
21st century and Eid Conflict
There are two major religious festivals in Islam that are celebrated among the Muslim world, following the lunar calendar, with great enthusiasm, harmony and love. Yet in the past decade, a new conflict has been rising among the Muslims living in the UK about ‘moon sighting’ because the sight of moon determines the exact date of celebrations of Muslims’ biggest festivals EID-ul-Fiter and Eid-ul-Adha.
Eid-ul-fiter is being celebrated at 1st ‘Shawal’ (the ninth Islamic Lunar Calender) after the holy month of Ramadan. And Eid-ul-Adha is celebrated at the 10th of Dhu-l-Hijjah.
In the 6th century, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had managed to celebrate these festivals by following the method of moon sighting with bear eyes. He (PBUH) declared that Eids can be celebrated if two men claim of moon sighting from a country.If there is no possibility to see moon with bear eyes due to clouds or bad weather, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) directed that Muslims should complete 30 days of the previous month before starting the new month. Thus Prophet PBUH had solved the issue.
But in 21st century, when there are huge technological, astronomical advancements and when people have realised the complex geographical structure of the earth, and also the concept of nation states is prevailed around the world, the moon sighting has created debate among Muslims.
The moon sighting conflict is also found among the Muslims of the UK. One group follows Saudi Arabia and celebrates their Eid with Saudis. However the critics who are not agree to follow Saudi Arabia says, ‘ the whole fiasco is caused partly by the predetermined (fixed) calendar the Saudi Taqweem Um-al-Qurah, a calendar adopted to create a predictable structure of dates linked to the birth of moon.
This makes it not only controversial but also blatantly contradictory to the commands of the Hadiths, (sayings of Prophet Muhammad). As a result the months have in the past often been initiated before the birth of the moon, let alone by the sighting of the moon. Also the geographical location of the UK demands its own moon sighting rather than to follow Saudi Arabia.’
Some scholars have tried to justify the birth of the moon method. Those who are following Saudi Arabia’s stance regarding moon sighting claim that scientists from NASA photographed the moon during its birth over a hundred miles above earth. The resulting photos failed to reflect any direct light from sun. A solid object that cannot be seen, cannot be regarded as visible.
‘Don’t Follow us’
Yet Saudis have never asked other countries to follow them and they recommend to the Muslims all over the world to seek their own horizons for moon issues and not follow the Saudi decisions.
In Scotland, this issue has also divided of Scottish Muslims as there is no unified system for moon sighting. Eids were being celebrated on one day in Glasgow from a long time. But now there are some mosques, Especially Central Mosque that is the largest mosque of Glasgow, are following Saudi Arabia and while other mosques are following the moon sighting criteria or observatory methods.
In 2006, to solve this issue, there was an agreement between the two groups of Glasgow in which it was stated that Eid would be celebrated in Glasgow if the nearest Islamic country which is Morocco and the farthest country South Africa, one of them declare their Eid at a same day.
However this agreement could also not work as a new situation aroused when Morocco was one day behind from its Islamic Calendar. So the Imams of Glasgow held their meetings to create any consensus on another country but they failed.
‘Glasgow Central Mosque Clarification’
Glasgow central Mosque has clarified their position on their website and described the failure of an agreement with other group saying, “The imams of Glasgow agreed that if one of two countries; Morocco and South Africa, announce sighting of the moon which coincides with sighting of the moon in Saudi Arabia, then we in Glasgow will also follow it.
On 29th Dhul Qadah (the month before Dhul Hijjah) in Glasgow, it was apparent that Morocco is one day behind in its Islamic calendar, i.e. that their date is 28th Dhul Qadah, which left only South Africa as a moon sighting reference point. The original agreement contained no allowance for only one country to be a reference point and so another country which is on 29th Dhul Qadah should have been selected.
At a second meeting on Sunday, 6th October at Glasgow Central Mosque, the ameer of the 30th September meeting therefore declared the original agreement null and void. Subsequently, the imams could not agree upon a new ameer and a difference of opinion means the pro-Makkah al-Mukaramah moon sighting followers will celebrate Eid on 15th October and the pro-Morocco moon sighting followers on 16th October.
On a separate note, if far away countries like South Africa can be accepted as a moon sighting reference point then why not Makkah/Madinah?”
Mirza Serfraz, former member of the ‘moon sighting committee’ of central mosque, says, “In our times, when I was the member of the moon sighting Committee, we always created consensus among the scholars and Imams (clergies) of all the mosques in Glasgow. Even we were the example for England and other countries that we solve this issue with mutual harmony and consensus.
I am no more the member of the committee so are my other friends however me and so many other people are disappointed by the current administration of all the mosques in Glasgow, as they are failed to solve this issue. It is a dogmatic approach from both sides. Islam is a flexible religion. It allows us to sit together and create a middle way when there is a deadlock.”
Not only the administration of the mosques are disappointed, the Muslims of Glasgow are also showing their anger and an aggression has been created among their hearts especially the young generation which is already getting away from their religion.
It is pathetic that if Muslims no matter from Glasgow however around the world cannot solve such issue which is solvable. The dogmatic approach from each side in Glasgow is being criticised by general Muslim population.