[Muslims offer Special Eid al Fitr prayers at Jama Masjid, Delhi. (File Photo)]
When Ramadan (Ramzan) ends? The question arises in mind as The Holy Month of Fasting enters its last leg. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and other Gulf states have completed 28 days of Ramadan on Sunday. Along with the Arab states, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey, Korea, Australia, Phillipines, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunai, Malaysia and European countries too have finished counting the similar number of Ramadan days.
Oman is the exception. The only country in the Gulf had started counting the month of Ramadan a day later, and here Sunday July 3 coincides 27th of Ramadan. In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries too Muslims have till Sunday counted 27 days of Ramadan. Ramadan in these countries had begun a day later than the Arab states.
The beginning and end of Ramadan, and a month in the Islamic Calendar, has traditionally been based on “hilal” sightings, which is the method mentioned in the Holy Quran and followed by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
As per this tradition, a new month is sighted on 29th of the prevailing month. If the new moon, Crescent, is sighted, the next day is counted as first day of the next month. If not, the next day is counted as 30th day of the prevailing month and the new month begins thereafter.
When is Eid al Fitr 2016?
Following the moon sighting tradition hence Muslims in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and other Arab States will sight the crescent on 29th day of Ramadan coinciding Monday July 04, 2016. If the new moon is sighted on Monday July 04, 2016, the holy month of fasting will come to an end and the next day i.e. Tuesday July 05, 2016 will be the first day of the new month Shawwal. The day is celebrated as Eid al Fitr.
If the crescent (new moon) is not sighted on Monday July 04, the next day will be counted as 30th day of Ramadan, and Eid al Fitr will be celebrated on Wednesday July 6, 2016.
Since United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey, Korea, Australia, Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and European countries normally rely on moon announcements by Saudi Arabia, Muslims in these countries will celebrate Eid al Fitr along with their counterparts in Arab states.
On the contrary, Muslims in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries, will sight the Crescent (new moon) on Tuesday July 05, 2016 which coincides with 29th of Ramadan in these countries.
If the new moon is sighted on Tuesday, Eid al Fitr in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other West Asian countries will be celebrated on Wednesday July 6, 2016. Else, Wednesday will be counted as the 30th day of Ramadan and Eid al Fitr here will be celebrated on Thursday July 07, 2016.
Moon Sighting Committees
Muslims have Hilal Committees i.e. Moon Sighting Committees to verify and analyze the moon reports coming from different parts. Ahead of the Eid day, and days before 29th of any month, appeals are issued to masses to sight the new moon and report to the Hilal Committees in the areas. The reports are then verified and analyzed by experts and scholars and a formal announcement about Eid al Fitr, and the first day of the new month, will be made.
In Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and other Arab states, the moon committees will meet on Monday July 04, 2016 after Maghrib prayers i.e. around 07:30 pm local time to confirm moon sighting reports. A formal announcement about the exact day of Eid al Fitr 2016 will be made after this meeting.
Similarly, Hilal Committees in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sril Lanka and other South Asian countries will meet after Magrib prayers on Tuesday. An official announcement regarding the Eid al Fitr 2016 will be made after this meeting if moon sighting is confirmed.
What is Eid al Fitr?
Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, is sacred to Muslims because it is believed that the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) in this month. During this month, Muslims observe dawn to dusk fasting, and it ends with Eid al-Fitr festival.
Eid day in a Muslim household begins with pre-dawn prayers which follow special Eid al Fitr – normally offered on Eidgah grounds or at Jama Masjid (Grand Mosques of the city). The Special Prayer of Eid al Fitr is offered just after sunrise.
For special Eid prayer, Muslims - men, women and children all together, adorned in new clothes set out for the Eidgah grounds, praise Allah – the Almighty and listen to Eid sermon.
After the Eid prayers, greetings are exchanged, and sweets and Eid dishes are shared with family members and friends.
Zakatul Fitr, also called as Sadaqat-ul-Fitr, is Eid charity obligatory on every Muslim man, woman and child. This is not in cash, but in the form of food grains. Muslims have been directed to pay this Eid tax before the Eid prayers.