A senseless Eid scandal

To start off, now that it really is Eid and I’ve got the time and energy to type, Eid Mubarak everybody.

Anyway …

All this Ramadan, I’ve been working on the assumption that today was going to be Eid, largely on the basis that moonsighting.com published their usual diagram of where the moon could be sighted last night. It was crystal clear - the moon could only be sighted clearly in one tiny corner of the south Pacific, and might be visible with instruments in the far south of South America, in the sparsely populated south of Chile and Argentina (where there are probably very few Muslims). It would have been fine by me if Eid was actually yesterday, because I could have done my driving job (delivering timber and heavy bags of powdered plaster and cement) on six hours of sleep rather than five, but then, fasting itself isn’t meant to be easy or convenient, is it? (More: Ginny [1], [2], Muslim Apple, Svend White.)

Imagine my discomfort when I accepted an iftar invitation to an east African friend’s house on Thursday night, only to find that the Islam Channel had announced, on the basis of numerous supposed sightings in the Muslim world, that Eid was yesterday. My friends automatically accepted this and were wishing each other, and me, Eid Mubarak. I refused the tea they offered me, even though I normally like tea made in the Somali fashion, because I believed I would probably be fasting yesterday and didn’t want the dehydration and frequent toilet visits that tea causes. I got home and looked on the internet, and discovered that there had been sightings of what people thought was the new moon, but what was probably the old crescent. It all makes me think that someone had already made up their mind that yesterday was to be Eid, and at the first sign that it was, however spurious the sign was, they declared Eid as yesterday.

However, for those of us living under the western conditions of Friday being a work day and Saturday a day off, it would have made a lot more sense for Eid to be today. And this is where this year’s Eid travesty, as that’s what it is, starts to look really bizarre. It is not only inaccurate, since the moon could not have been sighted and indeed there were many negative sightings, but religiously perverse that mosque committees should, on the behalf of thousands of Muslims, exchange a Friday prayer, on the last day of Ramadan, and an authentic Eid prayer, for an Eid prayer on the wrong day, and no Jumu’ah for many people as many scholars allow the normal Friday prayer to be left if Eid is on Friday.

This has been the most scandalous false Eid for a long time. Why would any Muslim in authority with an ounce of sense tell the people to forsake religious correctness, the reward of two prayers, a day’s pay or school and their personal convenience? It is ridiculous. I do hope this incident will convince the Muslims whose Eid dates are not government-dictated to take action to prevent further idiocy of this kind.

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