PRESS RELEASE: Moon Sighting for Eid al-Fitr 2023Assima Alam
The Islamic calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle, commences each month with the sighting of the new crescent moon. The recognition of the new moon holds immense importance in identifying the start of religious months and festivities such as Ramadan and Eid.
The methodology for recognising the new moon has been a longstanding topic of debate among the Muslim community. The Head Imam at Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre (GLMCC), Sheikh Zakaullah Saleem, recognises that Islamic jurisprudence permits interpretation in certain areas, leading to differing opinions among scholars. This also pertains to the methodology of moon sighting, which results in the Muslim community celebrating Eid on different days.
While some argue that modern-day scientific advancements and the ability to predict astronomical cycles render the sighting of the moon unnecessary, many Muslims still consider it a religious obligation based on a statement made by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). According to the Prophet’s saying,
“Observe fast on sighting it (the new moon) and break (fast) on sighting it (the new moon), but if the sky is cloudy for you, then complete the number (of thirty days)” (Saheeh Muslim)
Muslims in the UK and globally, who adhere to the physical sighting of the moon, depend on Saudi Arabia for sightings. Green Lane Masjid is one of many mosques in the UK that rely on sightings from Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Zakaullah explained that this is due to two primary reasons.
Firstly, Saudi Arabia has a well-established system for moon sighting that is known for its rigour, employment of advanced technology and trained observers, and has a defined legal and Shariah process for moon sighting, which is not the case in many other countries.
Secondly, the Saudi Islamic Courts are highly coordinated in announcing the official sighting of the moon, which is then easily tracked by many Muslim-majority countries and communities. These announcements are posted on official Twitter accounts, enabling Muslims to avoid other unverified reports, which may result in errors.
In general, Saudi Arabia’s well-established and trusted system has made it a significant authority in determining the lunar calendar for Muslims, including the sighting of the moon for Eid celebrations. Sheikh Zakaullah further commented that, “It is not accurate to say that those who genuinely follow alternative methods of sighting the moon are necessarily wrong. As a Muslim community in the UK, we should avoid belittling others or causing disunity among ourselves. Ideally, we should strive to agree upon a single methodology that all Muslims in the UK can follow, allowing us to worship and celebrate as one ummah (nation).”
To mark the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid, Green Lane Masjid will be following the moon sighting announcement from Saudi Arabia, as they did at the start of this Islamic month.
Eid is expected to occur on either Friday, 21st April or Saturday, 22nd April. GLMCC will issue a formal announcement on their social media platforms regarding the exact date this afternoon (Thursday 20th April), when it is declared if the moon has been sighted or not.
We wish and pray that everyone, regardless of the methodology they follow, has a fantastic and enjoyable Eid.
GLMCC Management & Head Imam, Sheikh Zakaullah Saleem