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Eid ul-Fitr 2024: Moon Sighting Debate And Why Muslims Celebrate Eid On Different Dates?

In 2024, Eid-ul-Fitr is expected around April 10th or 11th. But the exact date changes each year depending on when the moon is seen and where you are in the world.

Why Muslims Celebrate Eid On Different Dates?
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The end of Ramadan brings the important celebration of Eid al-Fitr, where Muslim families worldwide gather for the "feast of breaking the fast." In 2024, Eid-ul-Fitr is expected around April 10th or 11th. But the exact date changes each year depending on when the moon is seen and where you are in the world.

As Ramadan nears its end, many of the world's 1.8 billion Muslims look for clear skies as a sign to wear their best clothes and start celebrating. This celebration includes special prayers, giving charity (Zakat al-Fitr), visiting family, cooking special foods, and expressing joy and gratitude.

Why Muslims Celebrate Eid On Different Dates?

The answer lies in the fact that Muslims follow the lunar calendar, which has about 11 or 12 fewer days than the calendar most people use (the Gregorian calendar). The lunar calendar is based on phases of the moon. Therefore, in 12 months of the lunar calendar, there will be 354 or 355 days. 

The festival of Eid-ul-Fitr is usually observed on the first three days of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Hijri (Islamic lunar calendar), which falls right after Ramadan. Muslims fast during Ramadan, abstaining from food and drink from dawn to sunset.

Following the Lunar calendar also means that Muslims experience Ramadan in different seasons each year. This variety lets everyone get a taste of fasting in different weather conditions. If the Islamic months were based on the regular calendar, some places would always have Ramadan in hot summers with long days, while others would have it during short winter days. 

The lunar calendar gives everyone a chance to experience fasting in various seasons.

The Moon Sighting Debate

Determining the exact dates for Eid has always been a topic of debate and controversy. Some Islamic scholars use "positional astronomy" and the "scientific method" to calculate the new moon's position without physically sighting it. On the other hand, many rely on visual observation with their own eyes to spot the new moon before celebrating Eid.

Different countries have various approaches to moon sighting. Some rely on local observers to see the new crescent, while others defer to Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, to make the call.

Iran, with its Shia Muslim majority, follows a government announcement. In Iraq, which has a mix of Shia and Sunni Muslims, the Shia community follows influential clerics' announcements, while the Sunni community follows their own clerics.

Turkey, officially secular, uses astronomical calculations to determine Ramadan's start and end.

In Europe, most Muslims wait for announcements from their community leaders, often considering moon sightings from other Islamic countries. One Islamic perspective suggests that if a country cannot carry out moon sightings, Muslims should follow the nearest Muslim-majority country's decision.

So Eid dates differ around the world, though they are usually within one or two days of each other.

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