Thursday, July 07, 2016

Decoding Eid Moon Sighting in India on Eid Ul Fitr

After several years, in Mumbai/ Maharashtra, this was a 30 days Ramzan. 

As far as I remember, the ulama (muslim scholars) of Mumbai especially following a certain school of thought (whom we follow), are very traditional in their declaration of Eid.

Though most countries have a single Eid day across the country, we in India follow the Sunnah method. Even if there is moon sighting in neighbouring regions within Maharashtra state, Mumbai will never declare Eid unless someone from here sees the moon. Then the shahada (testimony) method is followed. Most rules in Islam are where you get your present day law from and are very methodical. 

Shahada method works like this. Suppose, someone in Nagpur sights the moon on 29th day of Ramzan. Unless he personally comes to Mumbai to give testimony, the Eid will not be declared. That's why most of the time, we come to know at 11 pm/ 11.30 pm that Eid is next day. Because some priest from Mumbai and the one who sighted the moon in Nagpur will meet midway and give the testimony. Then the Mumbai priest / scholar / person will declare Eid in Mumbai.

I've seen the best practices followed in Mumbai. That's because it's multi- cultural and there is good exchange of ideas even within scholars due to people from different backgrounds dwelling here.

While this is good, I am of the opinion that if anyone sights the moon within India then the shahada method can be followed by Skype conference call of all priests of all Hilal (moon sighting) committees within India and a common Eid should be declared for the nation as a whole. Else follow it within states, so that Eid can be declared in time and government can take a decision on postponing the holiday. 

Due to this confusion amongst the hilal committees in Mumbai till late night, Maharashtra converted the Eid holiday to 'fixed' many years back. While in Delhi, Bangalore and some other places, Eid holiday remains as 'subject to sighting of moon'. When Mumbai keeps deciding till mid night whether Eid is there next day (as it never sleeps), other state people have usually taken a decision and snoring.

Since many years, the shahada method helped. However, this year due to rains and heavy cloud cover, most part of India did not sight the first moon. And the shaahi imaam of Delhi also declared much earlier that due to non sighting of moon, Eid will be on July 7, 2016. So things were clearer much earlier. But the holiday was fixed, so remained even though there was no Eid on July 6, 2016.

Two state did celebrate Eid on July 6, 2016 as per the method they follow.

Those who do not know and asked me what happens when you do not sight moon for consecutive days, here's the answer. 

Muslims follow the lunar calendar and it is dependent on moon. If moon is sighted on the next day of the New Moon day when it is supposed to reappear as the first crescent, then the month ends at 29 days. And a new month begins the next day. Else, by default, the month ends with 30 days. So even if you do not sight the second crescent, the month technically ends. So Ramzan has ended today. And tomorrow is a new month, Shawwal. And first day of Shawwaal is always Eid-ul-Fitr.

That's the best way I could explain. Also attaching a chart of moon cycle for demonstrative purposes (from

Topmost Pic courtesy :