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Muslims Divided on `Eid Al-Fitr Start


WORLD CAPITALS, & News Agencies

Although the majority of Muslims worldwide were united in observing the start of Ramadan on Friday, October 15, they did not remain so regarding its end.

At least twelve Arab countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, celebrated `Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the dawn-to-dusk fasting month, on Saturday, November 13.

Saudi Arabia announced Friday, November 12, that Saturday would be the first day of would be `Eid Al-Fitr.

Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, all GCC members, also issued statements making the same conclusion.

In Libya, the state-run news agency said calculations indicated that the beginning of the Muslim feast was Saturday.

Sudan also declared `Eid Al-Fitr to fall on the same day.

In the Palestinian territories, Mufti Sheikh Ekrima Sabri announced the sighting of the new moon, making Saturday the first day of `Eid Al-Fitr.

Palestinians marked `Eid Al-Fitr by mourning their beloved leader Yasser Arafat.

In the Arab African states Somalia and Djibouti, the authorities announced Friday that `Eid Al-Fitr falls Saturday.

The Iranian state-run news agency, IRNA, also announced Friday that the Islamic

republic will mark the feast on Saturday.

Sunday Celebrations


Egypt’s Mufti Ali Gomaa announced Friday that Sunday would be the first day of `Eid Al-Fitr.

Yemen followed Egypt’s suit, declaring the major Islamic festival to fall on Sunday.

Syria, Lebanon and Jordan also declared Sunday to mark `Eid Al-Fitr festivities.

The north African countries of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco will also be celebrating the `Eid Al-Fitr on Sunday.

In occupied Iraq, the Sunni waqfs authority announced Saturday as the last day of Ramadan and Sunday the start of  `Eid Al-Fitr.

In Malaysia, the feast also falls on Sunday, according to the official news agency Bernama.

Indonesia followed suit and declared Sunday the start of the religious feast.

In Russia, the Council of Muftis of Russia announced that `Eid Al-Fitr will be celebrated Sunday.

According to correspondent, the religious feast falls in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on Sunday.

The official news agency of Turkmenistan said the president issued a presidential decree announcing Sunday as the first day of `Eid Al-Fitr.

According to the umbrella Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), `Eid Al-Fitr will fall on Sunday in the United States and Canada.

The Germany-based Muslim Council for Crescents said it was impossible to sight Shawwal crescent Friday and that Sunday is the first day of `Eid Al-Fitr across Europe.

The council is affiliated to the Higher Council for Muslims in Germany and the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR).

Further Divided

Nigerian southern states are celebrating `Eid Al-Fitr Saturday, one day after northern states.

The sizable Muslim community in Britain were also divided on celebrating `Eid Al-Fitr.

The Islamic Cultural Centre and East London Mosque announced that the feast falls Friday.

However, the UK Ruiyate Hilal Committee, based on a review of its moon sighting criteria, has concluded that its affiliated mosques will have Eid on Sunday 14th November, said the Muslim Council of Britain on its Web site.

Swedish Muslims were no less divided.

The Swedish imams council and the Swedish Islamic council announced Saturday as the start of the three-day `Eid Al-Fitr.

However, Turks and Iranians decided to break their fast and celebrate the feast on Sunday.

Sheikh Hassan Moussa, Stockholm grand mosque imam and chairman of the Swedish imams council, blamed this on differences in Muslim capitals on celebrating `Eid Al-Fitr.

Moon sighting is supposed to determine Arab lunar months. It has always been a controversial issue among Muslim countries, and even scholars seem at odds over the issue.

While one group of scholars believes Muslims in other regions and countries are to follow this sighting as long as these countries share one part of the night, another states that Muslims everywhere should abide by the lunar calendar of Saudi Arabia.

A third, however, disputes both views, arguing that Islam is against division and disunity, since Muslims, for instance, are not allowed to hold two congregational prayers in one mosque at the same time.

This group believes that the authority in charge of ascertaining the sighting of the moon in a given country (such as Egypt's Dar al-Iftaa [House of Fatwa]) announces the sighting of the new moon, then Muslims in the country should all abide by this.