Friday, October 12, 2007

How Saudi Arabia Screwed ISNA: The Never Ending Ramadan and Eid Saga

Today was Eid El Fitr in much of the Islamic and Arabic world, however, Muslims in North America following the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) have to wait until tomorrow to celebrate the Eid.

This really isn't anything new, as Islamic countries never seem able to agree on anything including their calendar. This year though presents a whole new level of disparity. See, a couple of years ago ISNA made the rather forward thinking decision of establishing the Islamic lunar calendar based on astronomical calculations, the way they adopted it though was rather retarded, where they decided to use the calculation to establish whether or not the new moon can be seen with the naked eye rather than whether the new moon is born. Regardless, it was a step forward where the calendar for the year was pre-announced and everyone knew when Ramadan and the Eids are and could plan accordingly. This year ISNA sought to pursue unity with the equivalent body in Europe, where they jointly agreed to follow the same calculation practice I described above, but with the twist of doing the calculations based on whether the new moon will be seen in Mecca.

Based on the new decision, the calendar was changed, and the Eid was pushed back from Friday to Saturday, because the new moon could not be sighted in Mecca. So what does Saudi Arabia do? They go and announce that several trusted witnesses have seen the impossible-to-see new moon in several areas of the kingdom, and hence Eid is on Friday.

The one extra day really isn't that big of a deal for someone who fasted 29. But I remember growing up the 29 day Ramadan was always a nice surprise of sorts, if memory serves me right, based on ISNA we haven't had a 29 day Ramadan since 1998.

It's just the principle of it that bugs me!! Happy Eid.

No comments: