Eid Festival 2022: May 2, 3 or 4?

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The month of Ramadhan is coming to an end in a couple of days. It will then be a moment of joy and celebrations for Muslims with the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr.

The Islamic calendar does not have a definite start and end date. There’s always an element of suspense because it consists of 29 or 30 days depending on the visibility of the moon. On the 29th day it is imperative to watch for the visibility of the moon to decide whether the new month will start the next day or at the end of the 30th day. All Islamic festivals and events are based on the lunar calendar. It is therefore imperative to sight the moon first during the end of each month.

Based on scientific calculations, the month of Ramadhan, this year, started a day later than it could have been possible, because the moon wasn’t sighted accordingly. And the moon phase predictions indicate that we might find ourselves in a scenario of 28 days if the moon is visible on Sunday 01 May. If this happens we’ll need to replace one day of fast after Eid.

We need also to understand that the question of the visibility of the moon is one of faith rather than one of logic. If scientific calculations may give the precise timing of the moon’s visibility irrespective of whether it is visible physically or not, the Islamic principle is to physically sight the moon on the 29th day before the advent of the following month which becomes obvious after 30 days.

So, there are three possible dates:  Monday 02 May, Tuesday 03 May, or even Wednesday 04 May, if the sky is covered at the time of sighting on the previous days. Factors to be considered when sighting the moon include the following:

  • The timing of the new moon, specially moonset,
  • The timing of the sunset,
  • The weather conditions, cloudiness in the visibility sector, and
  • The geographical position.

For the coming Shawaal month the first day of which is Eid-ul-Fitr we need to fully understand the new moon’s phase, the time of moonrise, but most importantly the moon’s setting time in relation to sunset. The table below indicates these timings:

Day/DateIslamic DateMoonriseMoonsetSunsetTime lapseProbability
Mauritius:      
Sunday 01/05Ramadhan 2806.4218.1317.4726 minsMeagre
Monday 02/05Ramadhan 2907.3618.5317.471h 06 minsHigh
Tuesday 03/05Ramadhan 3008.3019.3617.461h 50 minsObvious
Rodrigues:      
Sunday 01/05Ramadhan 2806.1717.4817.2424 minsMeagre
Monday 02/05Ramadhan 2907.1118.2817.241h 04 minsHigh
Tuesday 03/05Ramadhan 3008.0519.1117.231h 48 minsObvious

There’s a very meager chance, if at all, that the moon will be visible on Sunday 01 May (the 28th day of the current Ramadhan month) as a very thin lunar crescent in a very short lapse of time of 26 mins for Mauritius and 24 mins for Rodrigues, provided the sky is absolutely clear in the sector of visibility. Whereas, there’s a high probability for the moon to be sighted on Monday 02 May (the 29th day of the current Ramadhan month), but again if the weather is fine and the sky is clear in the sector. As soon as the moon is sighted, Ramadhan ends and the next day, first Shawaal, Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated. In the event (although a remote possibility) that weather conditions do not allow for physical sighting on Sunday and Monday, then it will be obvious for Eid to be celebrated on Wednesday 4 with a full 30-day month of Ramadhan.

Rodrigues, however, may have a different celebration date in view of its geographical position and perhaps different weather conditions at the time of observation.

In Mauritius it’s the Jummah Mosque at Port Louis that has the authority of validating the sighting of the moon. It’s a matter of great pride and pleasure to observe the moon on the 29th day in view of the suspense. After that the day of celebration is obvious. Anybody observing the moon (they should be of Islamic faith) should advise the Jummah Mosque accordingly, supported by two other eye witnesses for validation.

In Rodrigues it’s the Rodrigues Mosque administration that decides subject to the moon being sighted. Remember the question of public holiday is a matter pertaining to the authority of the government. Being an integral part of Mauritius, Rodrigues will have to go by the public holiday decreed for the republic of Mauritius; although in the event that the festival is celebrated on a different date, that day will not necessarily be a public holiday.

So Eid is celebrated on the first day of the 10th lunar month, Shawaal in the Islamic calendar. It is forbidden to fast on that day. It’s a day of rejoicing. It’s a day when Muslims have special thoughts for their close ones and those who’ve passed away. It’s a day when they forget all their differences and greet each other in a spirit of reinforced brotherhood. It’s a day when they gather in family around a feast, which are the traditional Biryani and a vermicelli snack, among others.

Unfortunately Eid may not have the same meaning for those who didn’t observe fast for insufficient or insignificant reasons as required by the rules.

Eid Mubarak to all.

Note: This article was written for This Week News Mauritius on May 01 2022

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