In an unexpected move, the governments of two Gulf countries have announced plans to look for the crescent moon tonight, indicating that Eid al-Fitr could be held tomorrow – at least one day earlier than expected.
UPDATE | 8:26pm
A prominent Islamic scholar in Qatar has confirmed that Wednesday will be the 29th of Ramadan across the Gulf, and not Eid. On Twitter, Sheikh Ali Al Qaradaghi said it was impossible for the new moon to be sighted tonight in Saudi Arabia.
غدا 29 رمضان لم يثبت رؤية الهلال بالسعودية الهلال يولد الساعة 1:15 بعد منتصف هذه الليلة فكان من المستحيل أن تتم رؤيته الليلة— د. علي القره داغي (@aliqaradaghi)
On Monday, the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia called on residents to look to the skies either tonight or tomorrow night. Today, Bahrain’s Islamic Affairs Council issued the same order, saying it would convene its moon-sighting committee tonight.
Qatar has not waded into the debate today. Yesterday, Qatar’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs said it would look for the new moon either on Wednesday or Thursday night, making Eid in this country on either Thursday or Friday.
The Awqaf did announce that some 265 mosques and prayer areas are being prepped for the customary early morning prayers, which will be performed at 5:20am, regardless of which day Eid falls.
If the moon was to be spotted tonight, that would mean Ramadan only lasted 28 days, which is very rare. According to Gulf News, the last time this happened in the Gulf was in 1984, after a Saudi sheikh admitted that Ramadan had mistakenly been started a day late:
The cleric body announced that Muslims must complete the minimum 29 days of Ramadan by fasting an extra day right after Eid. The announcement said Muslims are not allowed to complete the missed day of Ramadan on the first day of Eid as it is prohibited in Islam.
Other schools of fatwa said the day that people missed fasting can be compensated by feeding 10 poor people because it was a mistake in calculation.
It isn’t yet clear what Qatar will do if other Gulf countries begin Eid tomorrow, although if the moon is spotted here, Ramadan will be over.
We’ll keep you posted as we learn more. Thoughts?
Credit: Photo by Edward Musiak
Editor’s note: The update initially, erroneously read Thursday would be the 29th of Ramadan. This has been corrected to say Wednesday will be the 29th of Ramadan.